“Heartless” Broker Preyed Upon Largely Elderly Investors With Sham Stocks

"Heartless" Broker Preyed Upon Largely Elderly Investors With Sham Stocks 2
"Heartless" Broker Preyed Upon Largely Elderly Investors With Sham Stocks 6

Audrey Strauss, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that VLADIMIR ZISKIND was sentenced today in Manhattan federal court to 28 months in prison for participating in a scheme to use false statements to promote and sell worthless stock in various companies.  ZISKIND pled guilty on October 9, 2019, to one count of securities fraud and one count of securities fraud conspiracy before U.S. District Judge Vernon S. Broderick, who also imposed today’s sentence.

             Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said:  “Vladimir Ziskind heartlessly preyed on innocent investors – many of them elderly – who believed they were investing in a promising IPO or other time-sensitive lucrative investment, when in fact they were being fleeced by Ziskind and his co-conspirators.  As this prosecution and today’s sentence reflect, this kind of predatory fraud will not be tolerated.”

             According to the allegations contained in the Complaint, the Indictment, and statements made in related court filings and proceedings:[1]

             For several years, ZISKIND and his co-defendants operated a fraudulent scheme in which a salesman named “Mike Palmer” would call elderly persons on the phone and offer them what he claimed was a time-sensitive opportunity to buy stock in certain companies.  In fact, there was no “Mike Palmer,” and the salesman was actually ZISKIND or co-defendant Kevin Weinzoff, who were taking turns using the fake alias.  The purported time-sensitive investment opportunity was also fabricated by the defendants, as the companies in which they solicited investments were actually companies under their control.  In one intercepted phone call conversation, ZISKIND described to co-defendant Keith Orlean, the chief executive officer of the company, his strategy for a successful investor sales pitch as: “You ram it down their fucking throat.”  In another intercepted call between ZISKIND and Orlean, upon learning that a particular victim investor died, ZISKIND remarked: “I knew I should have pulled the last $10,000 out of him.” 

The most recent version of the defendants’ phony sales pitch included false representations about an impending initial public offering, or “IPO,” for their company, Digital Donations Technologies, Inc.  For example, in April 2018, ZISKIND assured a victim investor that “our company is doing great,” that the company had an offer for an IPO valued at approximately $300 million, and that Orlean was considering a private sale of the company for more than $1.5 billion.  In truth, however, the defendants knew that the company had little or no actual commercial value and that no such IPO or sale was taking place. 

             The FBI estimates that since April 2014, the defendants have convinced more than approximately 50 elderly persons to purchase stock in companies controlled by one or more of  the defendants based on false representations.  During the scheme, the defendants solicited more than $2 million in stock purchases from victims.

In addition to a prison term, ZISKIND, 52, of Brooklyn, New York, was sentenced to 3 years of supervised release, and ordered to pay a forfeiture money judgment in the amount of $732, 018.

Keith Orlean was previously sentenced to a prison term of 32 months.  Kevin Weinzoff, who previously pled guilty, awaits sentencing.

             Ms. Strauss praised the outstanding work of the FBI.

             The prosecution of this case is being overseen by the Office’s Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Robert L. Boone and Andrew Thomas are in charge of the case.


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