Alleged primary conspirators in a $14 million real estate investment scheme Louis Zimmerle and Brett Barber were arrested on Oct. 28. Zimmerle and Barber are Orange County business owners and former real estate agents.

The scheme started in 2012, when Barber was called in for questioning by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) in connection with an investigation of his questionable business activities. After his failure to appear, FINRA subsequently barred Barber from acting as, or associating with, a broker-dealer. 

Following this disciplinary action, the California Department of Business and Oversight denied Barber’s company, Mission Advisory Services, an investment adviser certificate in 2015. The department also prohibited Barber from all positions of employment, management and control involved with any investment adviser, broker-dealer or commodity adviser. 

Barber and Zimmerle later registered their investment company, BNZ Capital One, under limited liability in 2019. Doing so protected their assets from potential claims against the company. 

Operating as BNZ Capital One, Barber and Zimmerle offered investment opportunities for purchasing and flipping properties in both real estate and land development. The pair promised 10% in yearly returns to their investors and allegedly failed to disclose Barber’s previous sanctions

Starting in June 2019, BNZ acquired roughly 105 investors and raised a minimum of $13.5 million. However,…

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