Atlanta Businessmen Arrested on Market Manipulation Charges
ATLANTA—Marc E. Bercoon and William A. Goldstein have been indicted and arrested 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.
“These defendants are charged with manipulating the stock of a publicly traded company by carrying out pump and dump schemes,” said Acting United States Attorney John Horn. “They are also charged with orchestrating an investment fraud scheme using a separate, private company, and laundering the proceeds of that fraud. This office is committed to fighting all types of investment fraud—including securities fraud involving publicly traded companies.”
J. Britt Johnson, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta Field Office, stated: “Investment based fraud is not a victimless crime and the FBI will continue to dedicate significant resources toward identifying, investigating, and presenting for prosecution those individuals involved.”
According to Acting United States Attorney Horn, the charges, and other information presented in court: From July 2009 through September 2011, the defendants conspired with each other 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 the pump and dump 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 e-mails 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 massive 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. The indictment further alleges that 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, Findcom Acquisition, Inc., and then solicited investments from dozens of individuals. Bercoon and Goldstein told investors, and induced brokers working for them tell investors, that their funds would be used to develop an Internet search engine named “Find.com.” In fact, 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, much of the $1.5 million invested in Find.com 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 uniform 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 up to 35% to brokers on some investments.
These charges flow from a securities fraud investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in which court-authorized wiretaps were used to intercept telephone conversations.
Marc E. Bercoon, 54, of Dunwoody, Ga. and William A. Goldstein, 51, of Atlanta, Ga., were arrested and had initial appearances and bond hearings before Linda T. Walker, United States Magistrate Judge, on federal charges of conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud, securities fraud, and money laundering in connection with two fraudulent schemes. Goldstein was also arraigned at the court hearing. Bercoon and Goldstein were indicted by a federal grand jury on January 21, 2015.
Members of the public are reminded that the indictment only contains charges. The defendants are presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove the defendants’ guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.
This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Valuable assistance has been provided by the staff of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Assistant United States Attorneys Alana R. Black and Stephen H. McClain are prosecuting the case.
This announcement is part of efforts underway by President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF) which was created in November 2009 to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. Attorneys’ offices and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed more than 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,700 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, visit www.stopfraud.gov.