Atlanta businessmen convicted of market manipulation and investment fraud
ATLANTA - Marc E. Bercoon and William A. Goldstein have been convicted by a jury on federal charges that they manipulated the market for shares of MedCareers Group, Inc., a publicly traded company, and that they carried out a second investment fraud scheme using a new business corporation that they organized as the bait for investors. A third defendant in the market manipulation scheme, Peter P. Veugeler, previously pleaded guilty and testified at trial.
“These defendants manipulated the stock of a publicly traded company by carrying out two schemes,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak. “The defendants made over $2.5 million off the backs of many unwitting investors who bought while the stock price was artificially high due to the defendants’ rigging the market. At the same time, Bercoon and Goldstein ripped off investors in a separate, private company, by selling them shares based on lies and false pretenses. The jury’s verdict vindicates the victims and emphasizes the seriousness of securities fraud involving publicly traded companies.”
“Hopefully these convictions will give the many people, who unknowingly invested in the fraudulent stock, some solace,” said David J. LeValley, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “It’s easy to dismiss financial fraud cases like this as benign, but there is a real victimization and lives are changed because of it.”
According to U.S Attorney Pak, the charges and other information presented in court: From July 2009 through September 2011, Bercoon and Goldstein conspired with Veugeler and others to manipulate the market for shares of MedCareers Group, Inc., a publicly traded company quoted on the over the counter bulletin board under the ticker symbol MCGI.
The conspiracy culminated in two “pump and dump” schemes carried out in March and May 2010. To carry out these schemes, Bercoon and Goldstein arranged for MedCareers Group, Inc. to issue a series of misleading press releases and SEC filings, at the same time as co-conspirators sent out mass emails touting the stock. While the price of MCGI and the demand for the stock were both artificially high because of these efforts, the defendants orchestrated a sell-off of their stock, coordinating activity in multiple “nominee” accounts, which were titled in the names of other people and entities to hide the defendants’ involvement.
Around the same time, from May 2009 through June 2010, Bercoon and Goldstein also carried out a second investment fraud concerning a privately held company. Specifically, Bercoon and Goldstein organized a private corporation, Find.com Acquisition, Inc., and then solicited investments from dozens of individuals. Bercoon and Goldstein told investors, and induced brokers working for them to tell investors, that their funds would be used to develop an internet search engine named Find.com. Bercoon and Goldstein used the bulk of the over $1.5 million raised from investors for unrelated purposes, such as subsidizing their other business ventures and making payments to themselves and their family members. In fact, over $550,000 of the $1.5 million invested in Find.com Acquisition, Inc. was simply withdrawn from the bank in cash shortly after being invested.
As part of the scheme, investors were provided with written offering materials. In addition to stating that the investments would be used to develop the Find.com internet search engine business, the written materials stated that investors were being offered the opportunity to buy stock at a price of $1.00/share, and that no more than 12.5% of investments would go toward commissions. Despite these representations in the written offering materials, Bercoon and Goldstein sold stock to some investors at heavily discounted prices, without informing other investors, and paid commissions of 30% to 40% to brokers on some investments.
These charges flow from a securities fraud investigation conducted by the FBI, in which court-authorized wiretaps were used to intercept telephone conversations.
Marc E. Bercoon, 57, of Atlanta, Georgia, and William A. Goldstein, 54, of Alpharetta, Georgia, were convicted on 12 counts of conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud, and securities fraud in connection with the two fraudulent schemes. Both defendants were remanded into custody after the verdict. Peter P. Veugeler, 49, of Windermere, Florida, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit securities fraud and wire fraud and testified at trial. Bercoon and Goldstein are scheduled to be sentenced on May 30th and 31st, at 9:00 a.m. The sentencing for Veugeler has not yet been scheduled.
This case is being investigated by the FBI. The Atlanta Regional Office of the SEC, the Los Angeles Regional Office of the SEC, and the Criminal Prosecution Assistance Group of FINRA have provided valuable contributions in the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alana R. Black, Stephen H. McClain, and Kamal Ghali are prosecuting the case.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.