California Man Admits Role in $50 Million Wire and Securities Fraud Scheme
NEWARK, N.J. – A California man today admitted conspiring to commit wire and securities fraud in connection with his role in a $50 million internet-enabled fraud scheme, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced.
Allen Giltman, 56, of Irvine, California, pleaded guilty by videoconference before U.S. District Judge John Michael Vazquez to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
From 2012 to October 2020, Giltman and others engaged in an internet-based financial fraud scheme, which generally involved the creation of fraudulent websites to solicit funds from investors. At times, the fraudulent websites were designed to closely resemble websites being operated by actual, well-known, and publicly reputable financial institutions; at other times, the fraudulent websites were designed to resemble legitimate-seeming financial institutions that did not exist.
Victims of the fraud scheme typically discovered the fraudulent websites via internet searches. The fraudulent websites advertised various types of investment opportunities, most prominently the purchase of certificates of deposit, or CDs. The fraudulent websites advertised higher than average rates of return on the CDs to lure potential victims.
The fraudulent websites used a variety of means to appear legitimate and to gain and maintain the trust of prospective investors, including: (a) displaying the actual names and logos of real financial institutions; (b) purporting that the institutions were members of or regulated by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the Securities Investor Protection Corporation, or New York Stock Exchange; (c) claiming that deposits made to the institutions associated with the fraudulent websites were FDIC-insured; and (d) using FINRA or FDIC member identification numbers issued to real financial institutions and real FINRA broker-dealers.
After discovering one of the fraudulent websites, victims would contact an individual – identified in the information as Giltman – by telephone or email as directed on the sites. During his communications with victims, Giltman impersonated real FINRA broker-dealers by using their names and FINRA Central Registration Depository numbers. He would then provide the victims with applications and wiring instructions for the purchase of a CD. The funds wired by the victims would then be moved to various domestic and international bank accounts, including accounts in Russia, the Republic of Georgia, Hong Kong, and Turkey. None of the victims received a CD after wiring the funds.
To date, law enforcement has identified at least 150 fraudulent websites created as part of the scheme. At least 70 victims of the fraud scheme nationwide, including in New Jersey, collectively transmitted approximately $50 million that they believed to be investments.
The wire fraud conspiracy charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gross amount of gain or loss from the offense, whichever is greatest. The securities fraud charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gross amount of gain or loss from the offense, whichever is greatest. Sentencing is scheduled for May 10, 2022.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) also filed a civil complaint against Giltman today based on the same conduct.
U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch in Newark, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea. He also thanked the SEC for the assistance provided by its Enforcement Division.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony P. Torntore of the U.S. Attorney’s Cybercrime Unit in Newark.