The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation announced that four suspects had been charged this week relating to a stock fraud scheme that sold shares in a sham company that purportedly had a contract to provide video technology to the National Football League.
The FBI statement noted that Peter D. Kirschner, 49, of Delray Beach, Stuart R. Rubens, 61, of North Miami, Dean R. Baker, 34, of Coral Springs, and Bret A. Grove, 35, of Delray Beach, had all been charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and substantive mail fraud. The charges against the four are related to operating call rooms targeting senior citizens. The scam allegedly involved the sale of $2.4 million of stock in a company named Thought Development Inc.
Statements from federal law enforcement officials
U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer noted: “Securities fraud jeopardizes the well-being of our citizens. The defendants in this case are alleged to have raised approximately $2.4 million by targeting the elderly and representing that they had technology that was about to be used by the NFL. In truth, there was no such arrangement. Today’s charges are the first step in holding them accountable for robbing these elderly folks of their hard-earned savings for their own personal gain.”
“Those charged today materially misrepresented investments to a vulnerable part of our population,” George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Miami Field Office, commented. “The FBI will continue to prioritize investigations of investment fraud perpetrators who target the elderly.”
More on NFL video technology stock fraud scheme
According to the indictment and related SEC civil complaints, the defendants used pressure sales tactics on senior citizens and other investors to convince them to purchase stock in Thought Development Inc. (TDI). The firm had supposedly invented a technology that generated a green laser line on the football field visible in the stadium to players, fans and on TV. The company claimed that use of its technology would decrease the time required by officials to determine first downs, meaning more broadcast time that could be sold to TV advertisers.
The defendants raised approximately $2.4 million through call rooms that scammed more than 200 investors. The potential investors/victims were told that an initial public offering in TDI was in the offing and that their investment was earmarked for the development of the new technology.
According to the indictment. and at least half of offering proceeds were kept by the defendants or paid to sales agents in exorbitant, undisclosed commissions. The four men also misrepresented that TDI’s technology was going by the NFL. The indictment notes one victim put in an additional $75,000 investment on top of his first $2,500 investment after being told a flat out lie that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell had bought the technology for use in the 2013 Super Bowl. The defendants also did not disclose that TDI’s new laser technology could have had an impact on the vision of the players on the football field.
Of note, the SEC recently announced similar civil charges against Baker and Grove, filed July 25th in federal district court in Miami. Two other suspects, Daniel Baker and Demosthenes Dritsas, were charged earlier with mail fraud stemming from this investigation, and both recently pled guilty to the charges.