Posted on Monday, September 27, 2021 | 9:20 a.m.
Updated 16 minutes ago
ATLANTA (AP) – Federal regulators have launched civil lawsuits against a Georgian who they say defrauded investors who share his Turkish cultural and religious origins.
The United States Securities and Exchange Commission filed a lawsuit in federal court in Atlanta on Friday against Omer Casurluk, also known as Timur Efe, and Star Chain Inc., a company he created. From November 2016 to 2019, Casurluk raised around $ 9 million from investors, allegedly to acquire fast-service franchise restaurants as equal co-owners, according to the SEC complaint.
But it was in fact an affinity fraud scheme targeting unsuspecting investors, many of whom had recently arrived in the United States from Turkey and spoke little English, the complaint says. Casurluk, who has dual American and Turkish citizenship, moved to the United States in 2009 and became executive director of the Turkish-American Chamber of Commerce. He has met investors through that organization and through word of mouth in the Turkish business community, according to the complaint.
Instead of paying an equal share of the money to buy restaurant franchises, Casurluk and Star Chain were actually giving investors an inflated purchase price to make it look like they had contributed, when in reality the restaurant was purchased with investor money only, the complaint said. Casurluk and Star Chain also reportedly failed to identify the investors as owners in the franchise documents. Casurluk used investor money for his personal use and to support other businesses he owned, according to the complaint.
A phone number could not be found immediately for Casurluk, and no attorneys able to comment on the charges have been listed in court records online. Georgia business records show that Star Chain was administratively disbanded last year.