The Texas State Securities Board is warning investors in Rare Earth Exploration LLC about a fake financial settlement scam involving the Gordon Black & Associates Law Firm and International Corporate Entity Inc.
Scammers claiming to be employees of Gordon Black & Associates are contacting investors of Rare Earth Exploration, Bradley “Brad” Sherman Haycraft and Timothy “Tim” Taylor. They are falsely claiming the Texas State Securities Board authorized settlements of a class action lawsuit and that investors will receive a monetary payment. As part of the scam, they are directing investors to pay advance fees to International Corporate Entity Inc. and pay a deposit to Gordon Black & Associates – and the fees and deposit must be paid before the parties will purportedly release settlement funds to victims.
“This scam is an attempt to further defraud victims of Rare Earth Exploration,” said Enforcement Director Joe Rotunda. “Investors should not respond to any inquiries or communications that claim the Texas State Securities Board authorized financial settlements with Gordon Black & Associates.”
The scam is relying on a phony, doctored cease and desist order. The fake government document purports to be signed by Securities Commissioner Bernard Ellis. Bernard Ellis is not, however, the Securities Commissioner. Travis J. Iles currently serves as the Securities Commissioner, and Bernard Ellis has never been employed by the Texas State Securities Board.
Gordon Black & Associates claims to be licensed in New York. However, the online records of the State Bars of Texas and New York do not show that Gordon Black & Associates is an active firm, and they do not reflect that it is eligible to practice law in Texas or New York. Also, the New York and Texas Secretaries of State online records do not show that Gordon Black & Associates or International Corporate Entity Inc. are authorized to transact business in Texas as either domestic or foreign entities.
On January 15, 2008, the Securities Commissioner entered an emergency cease and desist order against Haycraft. On November 22, 2019, the Securities Commissioner entered a second emergency cease and desist order against Haycraft and Taylor. This order also named Helium Hunters and Rare Earth Exploration, finding they were engaging in fraud and threatening immediate public harm in connection with the offer of investments in helium wells.
On July 27, 2021, a grand jury in Collin County, Texas, indicted Haycraft and Taylor for illegally selling oil well investments. The criminal case is not Haycraft’s first criminal prosecution. He was previously prosecuted for misdemeanor drug offenses, later convicted of felony robbery and thereafter sentenced to serve probation. He was also recently prosecuted for felony possession of methamphetamine and ordered to serve a term of community supervision.
The pending criminal cases are being prosecuted by the Collin County District Attorney’s Office. Assistant Director Matthew Leslie and Enforcement Attorney Kelsey Heaton have been appointed as special prosecutors and are assisting in the prosecution of Haycraft and Taylor.