INCREDIBLE! SEC Says Recidivist Huckster And Felon Allen E. Weintraub Is Scamming Again — This Time With Purported Facebook Shares; Court Grants Asset Freeze And Agency Publishes Phone Number To Take Complaints
BULLETIN: The SEC is tackling another bizarre securities-fraud case in which the alleged elements read like fiction. In May 2011, the agency charged Allen E. Weintraub of Aventura, Fla., in a bogus “tender offer” caper in which he fraudulently claimed to have backers to purchase (for purported billions of dollars) Eastman Kodak Co. and AMR Corp., the parent company of American Airlines.
Weintraub, who declared bankruptcy in 2007, submitted the bogus tender offers while he was on probation for two felony counts of organized fraud and one felony count of money-laundering, the agency charged.
If that weren’t enough, the offers were submitted through a dissolved shell company known as Sterling Global Holdings while Weintraub was coming off a 2008 mortgage foreclosure. His criminal record dates back at least to 1992, according to records.
Weintraub and Sterling Global were ordered in January 2012 to pay civil fines totaling $400,000 for the bizarre Kodak/AMR takeover fraud — and Weintraub once again was enjoined from violating federal securities laws. The January order followed a 2002 order in which Weintraub was banned from being an officer or director of a public company as a result of a previous scam, according to records.
Alleged New Weintraub Fraud Emerges
Now — incredibly — the SEC says Weintraub is presiding over yet-another fraud, this one involving the use of the alias “William Lewis” and three companies: Private Stock Transfer Inc., PST Investments III Inc. and World Financial Solutions.
The latest scam involve the selling of “worthless shares” in an enterprise known as “PST Investments,” with Weintraub claiming he could arrange for customers to get pre-IPO shares of Facebook. The IPO scam operated at least in part through a website styled PrivateStockTransfer.com, the SEC alleged.
As part of an emergency order and asset freeze, a federal judge has ordered the site taken offline. It was serving a blank page this morning, but Google cache suggests the site was active at least through April 10. The April 10 cache entry shows the logos of Twitter and Facebook, which potentially means that Weintraub was using two social media-platforms, including Facebook, to commit fraud against Facebook and possibly Twitter.
Various government agencies have warned about social-networking fraud.
Here is how the Google cache for the landing page of PrivateStockTransfer.com read (in part) on April 10 (italics added):
Welcome to the leading company in PRIVATE STOCK buying and selling of the hottest PRIVATE COMPANIES. In the past only celebrities and big funds were invited to purchase shares in the hottest PRE-IPO companies. Today any accredited investor can have that opportunity as well. Today you can own stock in FACEBOOK, TWITTER, and other explosive pre-ipo companies.
If you currently own stock in these companies and want to sell, Private Stock Transfer, can match you up to waiting buyers. No need to wait for the IPO to cash out. Today there is a Market for your Private Stock, and buyers waiting to buy.
Another page on the site read (in part) on April 2 as follows, according to Google cache (italics added):
Currently available: April 1-30, 2012 or until sold
100,000 Shares of common stock, PRICED at $38.00 a share and a minimum investment of 3,000 shares
The April 2 page, according to the Google cache, asserted the offer was a “private placement” and, despite the offer of a specific number of shares and a “minimum investment” of 3,000 shares, asserted that “None of the information displayed represents a public offer to buy or sell any securities.”
Regulators long have warned that scammers engage in wordplay and publish disclaimers to disguise the fraudulent sale of securities.
Registration data for the domain shows it was registered to “bill lewis” of Tampa. The street address used in the domain registration appears to be the address of an office complex in Tampa that has a video-conferencing center among its amenities. The website was registered on Oct. 3, 2011, about five months after the SEC brought the “tender-offer” fraud case against Weintraub.
As part of its latest Weintraub probe, the SEC has published the phone number and name of a specific senior attorney — and is asking the public for help.
“The Division of Enforcement urges anyone who believes that Allen Weintraub may have recently defrauded them to contact John Rossetti, Senior Counsel, at 202-551-4819,” the agency announced — in bold type.