Overland Park Man Charged with Scheme to Sell Phony Investments in Facebook
|U.S. Attorney’s Office December 16, 2011|
WICHITA, KS—A Kansas man has been charged with devising a scheme to sell phony investments in Facebook, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said today.
Ronald D. Catrell, 45, Overland Park, Kan., is charged with three counts of bank fraud, one count of money laundering, one count of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. Federal criminal charges were filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kan.
The charges allege Catrell fraudulently obtained business loans from three banks including Valley View Bank, Bank of the West and M&I Bank. In order to obtain the loan from Valley View Bank, for instance, he gave the bank a personal account statement claiming his account balance was more than $297,000 when the actual balance was less than $179.
As part of the investment fraud scheme, Catrell created a business called Blue Valley Capital Management, LP, which he claimed had an office at 244 Fifth Avenue, Suite 1882, New York, N.Y. In fact, the building at that address did not have an 18th floor and the business located there, Aerobeep & Voicemail, offered postal mail boxes to persons or businesses desiring a mailing address on Fifth Avenue in New York.
Catrell offered investors the opportunity to purchase Facebook stock through him. He falsely told investors he could purchase stock in Facebook through Goldman Sachs. In fact, Facebook was a privately held company that was not publicly traded. One victim, identified as William L., gave Catrell $35,000 to invest in BCVM and $50,000 to invest in Facebook stock.
Upon conviction, the crimes carry the following penalties:
- Bank fraud: A maximum penalty of 20 years and a fine up to $1 million.
- Aggravated identity theft: A mandatory two years and a fine up to $250,000.
- Money laundering: A maximum penalty of 10 years and a fine up to $250,000.
- Wire fraud: A maximum penalty of 20 years and a fine up to $250,000.
The FBI investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Oakley is prosecuting.
In all cases, defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. The charges merely contain allegations of criminal conduct.