“As alleged, Shamoon Rafiq exploited investors’ fear of missing out on the potential gains to be earned from investing in companies before they go public, and solicited millions of dollars from investors through brazen lies and deception,” the release said.
The Justice Department said Rafiq elicited millions of dollars under the false pretense that he would sell shares of pre-IPO stocks, which - unbeknownst to his investors - he did not own and so could not sell.
In addition, the Justice Department said Rafiq sent faked emails impersonating senior officials of a reputable family office investment firm that supposedly backed his claims, the release also said.
Rafiq engaged in the fraudulent activity beginning in July 2020 as he began soliciting millions of dollars from investment firms in New York claiming he would sell them investment interests in a company that supposedly owned pre-IPO stock in Airbnb, among other companies, the release added.
The defendant was previously convicted for a similar fraud scheme in 2004 for which he served a 41-month prison sentence, but was eventually relocated to Singapore after being deported from the United States, according to the release.