SEC Nails Florida Finance Manager With Fraud Charges For Not Delivering Pre-IPO Facebook Shares

By David Cohen 

Craig Berkman, a finance manager in Florida and former Oregon gubernatorial candidate, was hit with fraud charges by the Securities and Exchange Commission’s enforcement division over what regulators called a Ponzi-like scheme that promised but never delivered pre-initial public offering shares of Facebook and other companies.

Forbes reported that the SEC alleges that Berkman used funds that were supposed to go to purchases of shares in Facebook, LinkedIn, Groupon, and Zynga for personal purposes and to pay off earlier investors.

SEC New York Regional Office Director Andrew Calamari said, as reported by Forbes:

Berkman blatantly capitalized on the market fervor preceding highly anticipated IPOs of Facebook and other social media companies to fleece investors whose cash flow he treated like an ATM to fund his own living expenses and pay court-ordered claims to victims of his past misdeeds.

According to Forbes, the SEC claims that Berkman raised $13.2 million from 120 investors, and he then used only $600,000 of that money to purchase interests in “an unrelated fund that had acquired pre-IPO Facebook stock.”

Berkman is in hot water in the state of New York, as well, as Forbes reported that U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara brought criminal charges against him, saying:

Craig Berkman seized on the interest in a highly coveted investment opportunity to swindle investors out of millions. With his arrest, this office continues our work to identify the perpetrators of financial fraud, hold them accountable, and protect investors.

According to Forbes, Berkman, 71, was arrested at his home in Odessa, Fla., and he faces 20 years’ imprisonment on each of four counts — two for securities fraud, and two for wire fraud — as well as a fine of more than $5 million.