$6.7M Facebook Stock Scam Uncovered in New Jersey
The FBI and the IRS-Criminal Investigation team arrested three men at their homes this morning on charges they stole approximately $6.7 million from an investor, in part by claiming special access to shares in the social media company Facebook Inc., prior to the company’s initial public offering (IPO). The announcement came today by U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman.
“According to the charges, the defendants took advantage of the buzz around the Facebook IPO to fleece unsuspecting investors,” says Fishman. “Shamelessly, Eliyahu Weinstein allegedly committed these crimes while under federal indictment for another investment scheme, even using stolen money to pay his legal fees. Today’s arrest should put an end to his brazen conduct.”
One of the men arrested today, Eliyahu Weinstein of Lakewood, N.J., faces additional charges for allegedly committing the fraud while under federal indictment in New Jersey for a separate real estate investment scheme. Weinstein, Alex Schleider, also of Lakewood, and Aaron Muschel of Brooklyn, N.Y., are expected to appear on the charges this afternoon in Newark federal court.
“Today’s charged conduct is another example of the cautionary tale that if an opportunity seems to be too good to be true, it probably isn’t,” says FBI Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford. “More than ever, the investing public must exercise the appropriate amount of due diligence before investing with new or unknown entities. This is highlighted by the fact that one of today’s charged individuals is currently awaiting sentencing on a previous fraud conviction.”
According to court documents, the three accused men offered investors the opportunity to buy large blocks of Facebook shares prior to the company’s IPO in May 2012. The offer was particularly attractive because large blocks of the shares were very hard to get, and they were expected to increase in value at the time of the IPO. Weinstein, Schleider and Muschel did not actually have access to the shares.