Five Employees, Including the Former President of Premier Links, Inc., Charged with Alleged $9 Million Microcap Stock Fraud
New York residents Margaret Amatulli, Frederick Anderson, Darnell Jackson, and Nicholas Spinelli were arrested today on charges that they engaged in a wire and mail fraud conspiracy to steal over nine million dollars from over 300 investors. A fifth charged defendant, Christopher Damon, is being sought for arrest by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The five defendants worked at Premier Links, Inc., a Staten Island-based company that operated as an unregistered broker-dealer between 2006 and 2012. As alleged in the criminal complaint unsealed today in federal court in Brooklyn, the defendants targeted elderly investors to steal their money through a fraudulent microcap stock scheme and then used the investors’ money for personal expenses. To date, investigators have identified at least $9.3 million in investor losses from the scheme. If convicted, each defendant faces up to 20 years’ imprisonment, as well as a fine equal to double the investors’ losses, and mandatory restitution to the victims.
The charges were announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and George Venizelos, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI).
“As alleged, the defendants conned elderly investors to steal their savings to fund their own personal expenses. Now, their day of reckoning has arrived. We are committed to protecting the investing public from the acts of fraudsters,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. Ms. Lynch extended her grateful appreciation to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the agency responsible for leading the government’s investigation, and thanked the Securities and Exchange Commission for its assistance.
FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Venizelos stated, “What was intended as a get-rich-quick scheme was, in fact, a cowardly plan to deceive some of society’s most vulnerable victims, luring them into a false sense of security by promising unrealistic returns on their investments. Unlike those arrested today, the FBI and our partners intend to keep the promises we make to those who invest their faith in us. Those who employ schemes to capitalize on the pain and suffering of others will most certainly be brought to justice.”
According to the complaint unsealed this morning, Premier Links operated from a Staten Island office purportedly to sell stock to investors. However, the defendants and others at Premier Links were never registered as broker-dealers with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Instead, Premier Links operated as a “boiler room,” using “cold callers” and other means to entice victims into investing their money in securities with promises of outsized returns. The defendants located their victims by using a printed list, which one of the defendants referred to as “the suckers list.” Once the victims wired or mailed money to Premier Links, the defendants and other co-conspirators typically stole the funds for their personal use. Bank records show that the defendants converted the investors’ money into cash through over 900 ATM and teller withdrawals. They also wrote checks to themselves and made purchases at Bloomingdales, the Gap, Macy’s, various restaurants, gas stations, and Party City, among other places.
Three defendants are scheduled to be arraigned this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Roanne L. Mann at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn. Darnell Jackson is expected to be presented before a United States Magistrate Judge in the Northern District of New York later today for removal proceedings to the Eastern District of New York.
The charges in the complaint are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jack Dennehy.
This prosecution was the result of efforts 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 http://www.StopFraud.gov.
Brooklyn, New York
Far Rockaway, New York
Queens, New York
Hudson, New York
Staten Island, New York
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 2014 M 1082