Convicted Google IPO Scammer Faces Fresh Fraud Charges
(Bloomberg) -- A man who was previously convicted of fraudulently selling pre-initial public offering shares in Google Inc. is facing new charges that he conducted a similar scam while posing as representatives of a billionaire family office.
Shamoon Rafiq, 47, was charged Friday by federal prosecutors in Manhattan. According to the criminal complaint, Singapore resident Rafiq impersonated two senior officials of the investment firm for a “prominent billionaire family,” falsely claiming to have access to pre-IPO shares in Airbnb Inc. and other companies.
Prosecutors did not identify the family but said its investment office was headquartered in Europe and was an arm of a family-controlled global conglomerate.
According to the complaint, Rafiq used his claimed association with the family to solicit funds from other investment firms, with one New York company and its overseas subsidiary wiring him $9 million in August. He created a fake website for the family office and fake emails for the two officials as part of the scheme.
“Shamoon Rafiq exploited investors’ fear of missing out on the potential gains to be earned from investing in companies before they go public, and solicited millions of dollars from investors through brazen lies and deception,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said in a statement.
‘Friends and Family’
Rafiq, who remains at large, is charged with securities fraud, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. He faces as much as 20 years in prison on the most serious charge. The Securities and Exchange Commission also sued Rafiq on Friday.
He was previously convicted in 2004 in federal court in Brooklyn for fraudulently offering investors access to “friends and family” shares in Google’s IPO. In that scheme, he falsely claimed to have attended Stanford with Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin and said he worked at prominent Silicon Valley venture capital firm and Google backer Kleiner Perkins.
His victims, who included an unnamed telecommunications chief executive officer, invested nearly $3 million in the fake Google shares. Rafiq pleaded guilty, served 41 months and was deported from the U.S.
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