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Sandy Winick and Gregory Curry Arrested in Thailand in Connection with One of the Largest International Penny Stock Frauds and Advance Fee Schemes in History
Winick Masterminded Fraudulent Schemes That Reached Across at Least 35 Countries; Winick Boasted About His Fake Passports and Ability to Avoid Arrest.
BROOKLYN, NY—On Saturday, August 17, 2013, Thai officials working with Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and U.S. Embassy personnel in Bangkok arrested alleged penny stock fraud kingpin Sandy Winick on a provisional arrest warrant in Bangkok, Thailand, to face extradition proceedings to the Eastern District of New York. Earlier today, Thai officials working with FBI and U.S. Embassy personnel in Bangkok arrested Winick’s alleged penny stock fraud co-defendant Gregory Curry on a provisional arrest warrant in Bangkok, Thailand, and he will also face extradition proceedings to the Eastern District of New York. These arrests mark the latest successful chapter in an effort to address fraud in the over the counter securities markets. Previously, on August 13, 2013, the FBI arrested six men in New York, Arizona, New Jersey, Florida, and California—and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), in coordination with the FBI, arrested a seventh man on a provisional arrest warrant in Ontario, Canada—for engaging in this same international fraud conspiracy that spanned the globe from North America to Europe and Asia. Each arrest resulted from an indictment charging the nine defendants with 24 counts of securities fraud, wire fraud, and false personation of Internal Revenue Service (IRS) employees in connection with the sale of securities and conspiracy.
The indictment and arrests were announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and George Venizelos, Assistant Director in Charge, FBI, New York Field Office.
As set forth in court filings, Sandy Winick masterminded securities fraud and advance fee schemes that victimized investors in approximately 35 nations and generated more than $140 million through various brokerage and bank accounts under their control. Gregory Curry aided Winick in the securities fraud and advance fee schemes. To uncover the international aspects of the scheme and gather evidence, the FBI used wiretaps in the United States and undercover agents in foreign countries.
The indictment and arrests are the result of one of the largest international penny stock investigations ever conducted by the Department of Justice and the FBI and mark the unveiling of a multi-year, ongoing investigation, which included significant assistance from the RCMP, as well as from other U.S. law enforcement agencies and law enforcement authorities in England and assistance from Thailand and China.
Defendant Sandy Winick is charged as the lead defendant in two separate but interrelated schemes. According to the indictment, the defendants first engaged in an international “pump and dump” scheme during which they fraudulently “pumped up” the share price of worthless penny stocks and then “dumped” billions of shares of those stocks by unloading them on unsuspecting victim investors across the globe. Winick boasted about the superiority of the charged scheme compared to another more obvious scam, stating, “That deal is obviously a pump and dump. We know enough to be subtle.” Second, the defendants operated boiler rooms in at least four countries that induced investors in penny stocks, including many of the same victims from the “pump and dump” scheme, to pay advance fees that the defendants promised would enable the victim-investors to sell their penny stocks and recover losses that they incurred. In reality, the defendants simply stole the fees without providing any services, fraudulently extracting millions of additional dollars from their victims. Hundreds of victims live in Brooklyn, Queens, and Long Island. As for the group’s recent plans to open a call center in Brooklyn, New York, a co-defendant said, “I tell you what man…hitting the Americans would be like taking money from a baby.” Sandy Winick also openly boasted in intercepted phone calls about how he maintained fake passports in assumed names and how regulators and law enforcement officials could never reach him in Thailand.
“As alleged in the indictment, the defendants Sandy Winick and Gregory Curry used our securities markets as a platform from which to run elaborate fraudulent schemes to victimize tens of thousands of unsuspecting investors across the globe. They swindled investors into buying billions of shares of worthless stock, then turned around and used a second scam to pick their pockets yet again. They thought that they could simply run away from their crimes. Today, with the help of our friends in Thai law enforcement, we once again showed that fraudsters cannot hide from the law,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. “I would like to thank our partners at FBI for their hard work on this important investigation.” Ms. Lynch also thanked the Royal Thai Police. Throughout the course of the investigation, significant assistance was also provided by the United States Embassies in Ottawa, Toronto, London, Bangkok, and Beijing.
FBI Assistant Director in Charge Venizelos stated, “Sandy Winick and Gregory Curry were wanted for their alleged roles in one of the largest international penny stock frauds and advance fee schemes in history. Their arrests are a significant accomplishment for the FBI as we continue our work in this ongoing investigation. We would like to thank our overseas partners, especially the Royal Thai Police, for their ongoing assistance with this matter.”
Winick has been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud, two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, 15 counts of wire fraud, four counts of securities fraud, and two counts of false personation of an officer of the United States. Curry has been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, five counts of wire fraud, and two counts of false personation of an officer of the United States. If convicted, Winick and Curry will face up to 20 years’ imprisonment for each count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, substantive wire fraud and substantive securities fraud, and up to five years’ imprisonment for conspiracy to commit securities fraud. Winick and Curry face up to three years in prison for each count of false personation of an officer of the United States. In addition, all proceeds of fraudulent schemes are subject to forfeiture. Now that they have been arrested, Winick and Curry will begin extradition proceedings from Thailand to the United States. For the other defendants, the next court date is scheduled for September 5, 2013, at 12:30 p.m., before the Honorable William F. Kuntz, II.
The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Christopher A. Ott, Sylvia Shweder and Melanie Hendry.
This prosecution was the result of efforts by President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF), which was created in November 2009 to wage an aggressive, coordinated, and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, and state and local partners, it is the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory, and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state, and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets; and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions, and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed more than 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants. For more information on the task force, visit http://www.StopFraud.gov.