Dix Hills Man Accused of Scam to Cheat Elderly

A Dix Hills man is one of three facing federal charges of attempting to sell worthless stock to senior citizens. 

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, and William F. Sweeney Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York  FBI office,  announced the arrests of Keith Orlean, of  Dix Hills, and Vladimir Zizkind and Kevin Weinzoff  and charging them with with conspiracy, securities fraud, and wire fraud in connection with their scheme to target elderly persons to solicit purchases of stock in a series of valueless companies through a variety of lies and misrepresentations.

Berman said:  “As alleged, the defendants worked together over several years to trick elderly individuals into investing millions of dollars in worthless stock.  The defendants allegedly deceived their victims into handing over their hard-earned money in exchange for nothing but lies and false promises.  Today’s arrests demonstrate that this profoundly harmful and cynical alleged conduct will not be tolerated.”

Sweeney Jr. said:  “We take all cases of securities fraud seriously, but there are few fraud schemes sleazier than defrauding elderly victims through deceit and manipulation.  The defendants allegedly solicited more than $2 million in stock purchases from their more than four dozen victims.  While nothing could restore the damage that has already been done, today we begin the process of holding those charged accountable for their actions.”

According to the allegations in the Complaint filed Thursday in Manhattan federal court:[1]

For several years, the 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 VLADIMIR ZISKIND or 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.

Law enforcement officials aid that one of the pitches  included false representations about an impending initial public offering, or “IPO,” for their company, Digital Donations Technologies, Inc.  For example, in April 2018, one of the defendants 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.  The defendants appear to have solicited more than $2 million in stock purchases from victims.

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

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