Among them was a “2500% Christmas Miracle Program” through which IB2001 guaranteed a supposed 2,500 percent return beginning Dec. Or you can risk it and take it out,” said Bartiromo. “You could leave it in the magazine and get $1,000 or $2,000. A California high schooler managed to bilk more than 1,000 online investors of more than $1 million and hid it in a casino account, the Securities and Exchange Commission charges.
Cole A. Bartiromo, a 17-year-old still living with his parents in Mission Viejo, Calif., allegedly promised to pay investors from 125 percent to 2500 percent return by betting investor funds on sports events.
As part of a settlement reached with Bartiromo, the SEC said it has recoverednearly $900,000 of investor funds he kept in Costa Rica.
“This case demonstrates that just about anyone even a 17-year-old high school student can mastermind a securities fraud over the Internet,” said Stephen M. “You might damage it, or you can get huge rewards so I decided to risk it.”
The risk paid off, when the family collected a mid-six figure sum for the cards in an auction, after two of the country’s top trading card grading services rated his cards perfect or near-perfect.
“I wouldn’t have thought that they would have gone for that even in my wildest dreams,” exclaimed Bartiromo’s father at the time.
Bartiromo Second Teen Charged
Bartiromo is not the first adolescent to be charged with Internet securities fraud. 26, 2001, on funds invested between Nov. 10, 2001, and Dec. Cutler, director of the SEC’s Enforcement Division.
The ‘Christmas Miracle’
Officials allege that Bartiromo, using Web site Invest Better 2001 as a front,offered “guaranteed” and “risk-free” investment opportunities. District Court for the Southern District of New York, freezing his and IB2001′s assets.
Bartiromo’s attorney, David Bayless of Morrison & Foerster in San Francisco, was not immediately available for comment.
Bartiromo was already showing signs of risk-taking late last year. On Aug. Carlin, director of the commission’s Northeast Regional Office.
Bartiromo’s settlement directs the teen to repatriate all assets outside the United States and deposit them into an account for the U.S. 15, 2001.
Bartiromo claimed that IB2001 generated profits for investors by pooling their money and placing “safe bets” with three online sportsbooks.
Since gambling is by definition risky, the SEC said IB2001′s representations that it could provide risk-free exorbitant returns were “materially false and misleading.”
The agency first became aware of the possibly fraudulent scheme in early November, and began action in mid-December against the Web page, hosted by MSN communities site, but has now issued an updated complaint naming Bartiromo as a defendant, along with several still unidentified individuals.
“During the course of the last few weeks, we followed a trail that unveiled Bartiromo as the perpetrator and located $900,000 of ill-gotten gains,” said Wayne M. As part of the settlement, Lebed agreed to return the money he made, including interest, which totaled $285,000, according to the SEC.
But the agency was heavily criticized for allowing the minor to keep $500,000 in profits. In September 2000, the SEC settled a case against then 15-year-old Cedar Grove, N.J., student Jonathan Lebed.
Lebed, the agency said, had bought large blocks of cheap penny stocks, then hyped them on financial message boards using phony names. 12, 2001, the teen and his father, John Bartiromo, were featured in an ESPN show (ESPN, like ABCNEWS.com, is owned by Disney) about the value of golfer Tiger Woods’ playing cards.
Father and son beamed as they explained to a reporter how difficult it is to separate the cards when they arrive in a magazine. As prices rose he would dump the stock within 24 hours and collect his profits.
He neither admitted nor denied the commission’s findings, but agreed to refrain from similar behavior. SEC officials said they forced Lebed to return profit only where there were “clear instances of fraud.”