SEC Charges Three New Yorkers for Raising More Than $184 Million Through Pre-IPO Fraud Schemes

(HedgeCo.Net) The Securities and Exchange Commission has charged three individuals with fraud for selling unregistered membership interests in LLCs that purported to invest in shares of pre-IPO companies, first on behalf of StraightPath Venture Partners LLC, the subject of the Commission’s emergency action in May 2022, and, later, on behalf of Legend Venture Partners LLC, the subject of the Commission’s emergency action in June 2023. Both StraightPath and Legend are now under court-ordered receiverships.

In this new action, the SEC alleges that New York residents Mario Gogliormella, Steven Lacaj, and Karim Ibrahim directed an unregistered sales force of more than 50 callers in boiler rooms to pressure investors into making investments without telling them that the shares had been substantially marked up—between approximately 19 and 105 percent on average above the prices that StraightPath or Legend had paid for the underlying shares. As a result of these tactics, the defendants and their sales force allegedly pocketed more than $45 million in fees from unsuspecting investors from 2019 to 2022.

“We allege that the fraud in this case is like a Hollywood movie where the defendants ran boiler rooms using scripts they referred to as the ‘Bible,’ engaged in high-pressure sales tactics, and employed outright falsehoods to defraud investors,” said Sheldon L. Pollock, Associate Director of the New York Regional Office. “After the SEC shut them down the first time, they simply rebranded their outfit, and today through our action we are seeking to ensure that they are held accountable for enticing and lying to investors.

The SEC’s complaint charges the defendants with violating antifraud and other provisions of the federal securities laws. The complaint seeks permanent injunctive relief, return of allegedly ill-gotten gains, and civil penalties. The SEC also charged Adam Ibrahim, Karim Ibrahim’s brother, as a relief defendant.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York today unsealed an indictment charging Gogliormella, Lacaj, and Karim Ibrahim with securities fraud, among other offenses, in connection with their work for StraightPath and Legend.

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