The SEC barred Dawn Bennett from the securities industry for inflating her firm’s assets under management and investment performance to bring in more business from well-to-do clients. The commission also ordered her and her firm, Bennett Group, to pay over $4 million in fines and disgorgement. The ruling was handed down by Administrative Law Judge James Grimes, who also ordered Bennett and her firm to pay civil penalties of $600,000 and $2.9 million respectively.The ruling comes after a January hearing at which Bennett, in an unusual legal strategy, chose not to appear. Both the hearing and Judge Grimes’ ruling centered on Bennett’s pattern of promoting inflated assets as a way to gain high rankings of Barron’s lists of top advisors, and then using those rankings to solicit new clients for her advisory business, which is no longer working with clients. Between 2009 and 2011, at least, Dawn Bennett and Bennett Group purported to manage between $1.1 billion and $2 billion. In actuality, the group never had more than $407 million under management in that time frame, the ruling stated. According to the SEC, that amount consisted of $338 million in brokerage assets, $67 million in pension consulting assets and $1.1 million in advisory assets. Grimes stated that “Bennett is not fit to remain in the industry in any capacity” He also said that Bennett’s “numerous false statements regarding AUM and portfolio performance to attract new customers and retain existing ones caused investors to falsely place their trust in her and resulted in large losses. Her behavior and bald-faced lies made during the Commission’s examination and investigation further demonstrate her untrustworthiness and unfitness.” If you or someone you know has lost money as a result of an investment or Ponzi scheme, please contact Richard Frankowski at 888-741-7503 to discuss your potential legal remedies or complete the contact form.