Little Rock Man Accused of Running Ponzi Scheme and Attempting to Steal from 9/11 Fund

Investigation and arrest made in coordination with agents from Arkansas Attorney General’s Office

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced in coordination with the Little Rock Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Arkansas Cooperative Disability Investigation (CDI) Unit the charge and arrest of Little Rock resident, Malik Akbar’El for 12 federal counts including Mail Fraud, Theft of Government Monies, Attempted Bank Fraud and False Statement.

According to investigation records, Akbar’El, also known as Tyrone David Williams and/or Skipper David Williams, began soliciting people in 2016 to invest money with his company promising 300 percent to 480 percent profit return each year. Akbar’El acquired 252 investors who sent him $644,331.22 to invest. However, he invested less than $92,000.

While operating the apparent Ponzi scheme, Akbar’el was also collecting Social Security disability benefits totaling nearly $24,000.

The joint investigation also revealed Akbar’El attempted to deposit a fraudulent check for nearly $26,000 from the National September 11 Memorial and Museum fund. Akbar’El told the Telcoe Federal Credit Union teller the check was a settlement associated with his mother.

During the course of the FBI investigation, Akbar’El allegedly lied to an agent saying he was paying an employee to assist him. However, the investigation alleges the person was in a relationship with Akbar’El and signed a contract agreeing to pay her 12 percent to 24 percent of his income and his company’s income for five years on a monthly Walmart gift card.

Akbar’El has operated Akbar Williams & Associates Legal Services Corporation since 2012 – offering legal, investment and tax services to paying clients. Akbar’El is not and never has been a licensed attorney. In 2017, the Arkansas Securities Department entered a Cease and Desist Order against Akbar’El and his companies to stop him from recruiting individuals to invest money with him under false pretenses. In 2018, the Supreme Court of Arkansas Committee on Unauthorized Practice of Law filed a lawsuit and a Pulaski County Circuit Judge ordered Akbar’El to stop practicing law.

Along with the federal warrant, Akbar’El was wanted on state felony probation revocation and a failure-to-pay violation from Crawford County. Akbar’El was arrested Thursday, January 16, 2020 with assistance from the Little Rock Police Department. He was sent to the US District Courthouse for his first appearance and remains in the Greene County jail. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Pat Harris, Eastern District of Arkansas.

Arkansas’s CDI Unit was formed and began operation in October 2015. The Unit is a federal, state and local cooperative effort led and funded by SSA-OIG. The mission of the CDI Unit is to combat fraud by investigating questionable statements and activities of claimants, medical providers, interpreters or other service providers who facilitate or promote disability fraud. The Arkansas Attorney General’s office has two special agents and an analyst assigned to the CDI Unit. To report suspected financial schemes or fraud, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office at (800) 482-8982 or visit

Rutledge Files Suit Against Unlicensed Little Rock Contractor

Says, ‘Scam artists will often prey on Arkansans after a storm wreaks havoc on our communities’

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today filed a lawsuit against Little Rock resident, Howard Gene Hickman, an unlicensed contractor, and his entity HGH Development LLC, for unlawfully misrepresenting services and taking more than $20,000 in fees from consumers without providing any roofing or remodeling services. Rutledge’s complaint alleges Hickman has violated several provisions of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (ADTPA) and the Home Solicitation Sales Act (HSSA).

“Scam artists will often prey on Arkansans after a storm wreaks havoc on our communities and homes,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Together, we are fighting back against these bad actors to keep them from causing more financial loss and heartache.”

Consumer complaints filed with Rutledge’s office claim Hickman, doing business as HGH Development, illegally solicited three victims for roofing repairs and replacement services. After receiving a deposit from each of the victims, Hickman quickly cashed the checks, but failed to complete the work on the proposed agreements or return consumers’ money.

Hickman faces up to $10,000 fines for each violation of the ADTPA.

Hickman was previously arrested for multiple felony thefts of property and services related to construction projects. He was released on parole from prison in 2016.

For more tips to help avoid falling victim to bad actors, or to file a consumer-related claim with the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office, call (800) 482-8982, email or visit

Texarkana-based Asphalt Laying Company Paves Way to Lawsuit

Rutledge files lawsuit on behalf of Arkansans totaling nearly $60,000 in deceptive sales practices

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today filed suit against Texarkana business owner Robert Stevens, owner of Pro-Pave Asphalt, Robert Stevens Construction and RS Asphalt, for multiple violations of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (ADTPA) and Home Solicitation Sales Act (HSSA). Eight consumers have reported losses of nearly $60,000 resulting from Stevens’ aggressive and deceptive sales tactics.

“Arkansans, including our most vulnerable citizens, must be protected from aggressive business practices that attempt to skirt the law and demand exorbitant payments before work is performed or services rendered,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I will continue to hold bad actors accountable for their deceptive business practices.”

Eight consumer complaints received by the Attorney General’s Office between April 2016 and August 2019 reveal a common scheme. Stevens or his workers typically pull up to consumers’ houses in an asphalt truck, claim to have some leftover asphalt to sell at a “deeply discounted price,” and provide only vague, misleading, and incomplete estimates of the total cost. Stevens then immediately begins laying asphalt while failing to ever inform the consumer of their three-day right to cancel as required by the HSSA. After the work is completed or nearing completion, Stevens demands an exorbitant and unexpected payment amount and regularly threatens or intimidates consumers until they pay.

Six of the eight unresolved complaints are from senior citizens over the age of 60 and span the State from Manila to Gravette and Texarkana.

Stevens can face a $10,000 fine for each violation of the ADTPA and HSSA and is subject to an additional $10,000 penalty per violation for targeting elderly consumers.

General Rutledge encourages all Arkansans to demand written estimates of the total project price before any construction work begins.

For more tips to help avoid falling victim to bad actors, or to file a consumer-related claim with the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office, call (800) 482-8982, email or visit

PayPal Charitable Giving Fund, Inc. Agrees to Provide Donors with Adequate Information

Rutledge protects Arkansas consumers making charitable donations

LITTLE ROCK – Attorney General Rutledge, together with 23 state Attorneys General and Secretaries of State, announced an agreement with PayPal Charitable Giving Fund, Inc. (PPGF) to ensure donors receive adequate information and disclosures when making charitable contributions through the Paypal’s online fundraising platform. PPGF is the charitable arm of PayPal, Inc. PPGF is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation that allows donors to contribute funds electronically to PPGF and select a charity that will ultimately receive the benefit of their contribution. However, in some instances, PPGF redirected donors’ contributions from the charity selected by the donor to other organizations with similar purposes without informing donors.

“Arkansans are extremely generous, but they need assurances that any donation made goes directly to the intended source,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “As a result of today’s settlement, online donors will have the information and confidence they need to make informed decisions about their charitable contributions.”

PPGF adopted the following reforms to its disclosures to ensure that donors know:

  • The consumer is contributing to PPGF
  • Provides a timeframe in which a selected charity may receive funds directed to PPGF from the consumer
  • Any implication of being an enrolled rather than an unenrolled charity on the PPGF platform

PPGF also agreed to notify donors when it redirects a donor’s charitable contribution to an organization other than the one selected by the donor. PPGF will provide regulators with future campaign data to ensure the organization is complying with its obligations under the agreement.

In the agreement, PPGF will make a payment of $200,000 to the National Association of Attorneys General for deposit into the NAAG Charities Enforcement and Training Fund.

In addition to Arkansas, the multistate as led by Connecticut also includes: Colorado, District of Columbia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina Secretary of State, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin.

For more information about services provided by the Attorney General’s office, visit or call (501) 682-2007. Rutledge can also be found on Facebook at and on Twitter at

Rutledge Applauds U.S. Supreme Court Decision to Hear Arkansas’s Case against PBMs

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge appreciates the United States Supreme Court’s decision to hear Arkansas’s case to uphold the rule of law and protect Arkansas small businesses in our rural areas and to save community pharmacies from abusive pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) payment practices.

“Today is a victory for Arkansas and especially our rural pharmacies,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Pharmacy benefit managers need to be held accountable for the alarming number of small town pharmacies they have closed due to unfair business practices.”

PBMs are middleman companies that pay pharmacists for prescription drugs dispensed to insurance beneficiaries. The General Assembly passed Act 900 in 2015 to require Arkansas pharmacies be reimbursed by PBMs at fair rates. The law was necessary because more than 16% of rural pharmacies had closed in recent years due to declining PBM payments on generic prescriptions causing Arkansans to be unable to receive necessary medications.

The case is Rutledge v. Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, No.18-540.

Rutledge Statement on Passing of Izard County Sheriff Earnie Blackley

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today released a statement offering condolences on the passing of Izard County Sheriff Earnie Blackley.

“My heart goes out to Sheriff Blackley’s family, friends and the community he tirelessly served,” Attorney General Rutledge said. “He was a dedicated leader of the law enforcement community; serving more than 30 years. Even after being diagnosed with stage 4 cancer only months after being elected to serve as Sheriff, he continued to work to keep his county safe. My prayers are with Sheriff Blackley’s family and all of Izard County.”


Ashley County Resources Day

Hamburg Senior Citizens Center
1406 North Main Street, Hamburg

Mobile Office
10:15 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.

Prescription Drug Take Back
Partnering with Sheriff Tommy Sturgeon
10:15 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.

Identity Theft and Scam Presentation
11:15 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.

 10:15 AMVIEW 

Prairie County Resources Day

Hazen Senior Health & Wellness Center
607 McDonald Drive, Hazen

Mobile Office
11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Prescription Drug Take Back
Partnering with Sheriff Rick Hickman
11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Identity Theft and Scam Presentation
Noon to 12:30 p.m.

 11:00 AMVIEW 

Clark County Resources Day

CADC Arkadelphia Senior Activity Center
1305 North 10th Street, Arkadelphia

Mobile Office
9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

Prescription Drug Take Back
Partnering with Sheriff Jason Watson
9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

Identity Theft and Scam Presentation
10:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

 9:30 AMVIEW 

Scams and Consumer Protection Webcast

In recognition of National Consumer Protection Week, this free webcast on scams and consumer protection from 10 to 11:30 a.m. is open to the public.

Registration is required.

The Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division represents and protects the State, its subdivisions, legitimate business community and Arkansas consumers.

This webcast will review the many ways the Attorney General's office can be utilized as a resource, common scams to be aware of and how to avoid them, and identity theft. Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions during the presentation.

The Attorney General's office has applied for 1.5 hours of continuing legal education (CLE) and law enforcement standards (CLEST) credit.

 10:00 AMVIEW 
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