Four Canadians and two Americans were charged with swindling $300 million from investors who believed they were putting money into a gold mining operation.

The Securities and Exchange Commission named Milowe Allen Brost and Gary Allen Sorenson of Calgary as the primary architects of the scheme that took savings, retirement and home equity funds from more than 3,000 investors across the U.S. and Canada for the false gold.

Also charged were:

• Larry Lee Adair of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

• Ward K. Capstick, a Canadian citizen who lives in Snohomish, Wash.

• Bradley Dean Regier of Calgary

• Martin M. Werner of Boca Raton, Fla.

At seminars, investors were told they could earn 18 to 36 percent annual returns by investing in various companies, with their investments fully collateralized by gold. The companies, the SEC said, were shells owned or controlled by Brost or Sorenson.

Investor funds often were transferred through numerous bank accounts as far away as Asia, Europe and South America, before returning as “interest payments” to investors -- and personally enrich Brost, Sorenson and others involved in the scheme.

“Brost and Sorenson orchestrated a complex, far-reaching fraud disguised by a labyrinth of companies and foreign bank accounts they used to hide their misconduct from investors and law enforcement,” said Donald M. Hoerl, Director of the SEC’s Denver Regional Office.

Sorenson’s wife and daughter are named as relief defendants in the case in order to recover investor assets now in their possession. Sorenson used investor funds pay off the mortgage of daughter Laura Sorenson and invest in a film production company for her benefit, and he purchased a home and other items for wife Thelma Sorenson.

The defendants could not be reached for comment.