Harvard Business School Grad's Ponzi Scheme That Defrauded Alumni of $2.9M Halted By New York Court

Harvard Business School Grad's Ponzi Scheme That Defrauded Alumni of $2.9M Halted By New York Court
Harvard students and alumnae attend a Harvard football game | Getty Images | Photo by Mark Peterson

A ponzi scheme run by a former Harvard MBA graduate was stopped by a New York court after it allegedly swindled over $2.9 million from fellow Alumni. In a release, New York Attorney General Letitia James stated that former grad Vladimir Artamonov solicited money from at least 29 of his fellow alumni of the prestigious business school, promising them 500% to 1,000% returns. Attorney General James secured an order to stop Artamonov’s operation from harming more investors through his scheme. The Manhattan Supreme Court’s order also barred Artamonov from withdrawing and transferring funds from his bank and brokerage accounts.



 

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Artamonov graduated from the Harvard Business School (HBS) in 2003 with a Master’s in Business Administration, as per the release. He then moved to New York and registered as a securities professional. Initially, he did not seek money for fraud but in 2021, Artamonov allegedly started his scheme. He solicited money from the public for an investment fund called “Project Information Arbitrage” or the “Artamonov Fund.”

The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) alleged that Artamonov lured clients by claiming that he could learn in advance about the investments that Berkshire Hathaway would make by examining public state insurance filings. He told investors that the skill is like “having a private time machine” and “getting tomorrow’s newspaper today.” He further promised hefty returns of up to 1,000% to lure investors.

Representative Image | Pexels | Photo by Monstera Production
Representative Image | Pexels | Photo by Monstera Production

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Behind the scenes, Artamonov used the investors’ money to buy short-term options that expired within days of purchase and had no relation to Berkshire Hathaway. Artamonov allegedly lost millions by investing in short-term options but did not disclose the losses to his investors. He covered up the losses by telling them that it had been a “quiet” month and asked them to wait.

Artamonov identified many of his investors through the HBS alumni network, who did not have a close personal relationship with him and only knew him as an acquaintance. Since 2021, he secured at least $2.9 million from at least 29 individual investors. He further engaged in a ponzi scheme by paying the old investors with the funds received from the new investors.

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In one case, Artamonov took $100,000 from an investor and lost all of the funds within a few weeks on short-term options. When the investor asked for an update, Artamonov told the investor that he hadn’t invested the money yet and asked for an additional $50,000 from him.

Artamonov also spent the investors’ money on personal expenses like vacations, shopping, dining, and more.

The matter came to light when the OAG got to know about one of Artamonov’s initial investors who committed suicide after discovering that he had lost $100,000. The OAG alleged that even after the tragedy, Artamonov continued to solicit new investors by lying to them about returns and his strategy.

Attorney General James asked the court for a preliminary injunction that would restrain Artamonov from providing financial services and engaging in further fraudulent conduct. He will also be barred from withdrawing and transferring funds from his bank accounts. Attorney General James also secured an order that directs Artamonov to testify and produce books and records to help with the OAG’s ongoing investigations.

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