Kreller Hot Topic Report | The Role of Digital Footprint Research in Corporate Compliance
by Lauren Caryer, PhD
The Picture of Success: Social Media as a Vehicle of Fraud
In a May 31, 2019 civil action, filed with the US District Court in Athens, GA, the Securities and Exchange Commission charged Syed Arham Arbab with conducting a Ponzi scheme from a University of Georgia fraternity house. Arbab allegedly received at least $259,000 in fraudulently obtained funds from a number of investors between May 2018 and May 2019. According to the complaint, “Arbab generally targeted individuals associated with UGA and earlier friends and associates,” characterizing his firm, Artis Proficio Capital Management, LLC, as unique in that it was tailored to college students and young people.
A childhood acquaintance of Arbab told NBC News that he decided to invest with Artis Proficio after seeing social media posts in which Arbab promoted his purported financial success. The investor said that these posts, “including one in which Arbab claimed he’d bought a Corvette with cash,” lent credence to Arbab’s investment claims, convincing him that the Arbab “must be legit.”
On the same day in Miami, a US District Judge sentenced Anthony Gignac to 18 years for impersonating the Saudi Arabian Prince, Khalid bin al-Saud, in order to defraud investors of over $8 million dollars after offering them an opportunity to purchase a stake in the Saudi state oil company, Saudi Aramco. According to a DOJ press release, Gignac purchased fake diplomatic license plates, hired body guards outfitted with false diplomatic security badges, dressed in “traditional Saudi garb,” and surrounded himself with “luxury goods consistent with the lavish lifestyle of a Saudi Royal.”
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