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O.C. investment advisor accused of fraud

The Securities and Exchange Commission said Thursday that it has temporarily halted the operations of an Orange County investment advisor it has accused of running a fraudulent investment scheme.

The temporary restraining order, issued April 7 by a federal judge in Los Angeles, freezes the assets of Richard H. Nickles of Dana Point and his three Santa Ana companies: Innovative Advisory Services Inc., Innovative Advisory Services and Island Trader.

The SEC has accused Nickles, 53, of raising about $3 million through newspaper ads for investments that purportedly were guaranteed by the U.S. government or insured. He did not invest the money as promised, the complaint said.

The SEC said in the complaint that it is unknown what Nickles did with investors’ money.

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The agency alleges that Nickles falsely promoted himself as a certified financial planner and gave investors false trade confirmations for securities that were not bought or did not exist.

A hearing on the preliminary injunction is set for Monday.

Nickles’ defense attorney was unavailable for comment.

nathan.olivarezgiles@ latimes.com

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