Between 2012 and October 2020, a California man confessed his participation in a large-scale and long-running Internet-based fraud scam that allowed him and other fraudsters to drain about $50 million from several investors. Allen Giltman, 56, and his co-conspirators constructed fake websites to collect money from people through the internet by offering different investment possibilities (mainly the acquisition of certificates of deposit).
“The Fraudulent Websites advertised higher than average rates of return on the CDs, which enhanced the attractiveness of the investment opportunities to potential victims,” as per court documents. “At times, the fraudulent websites were designed to closely resemble websites being operated by actual, well-known, and publicly reputable financial institutions; at other times, the fraudulent websites were designed to resemble legitimate-seeming financial institutions that did not exist.”
They advertised the phony investment sites in Google and Microsoft Bing search results for “highest cd rates” and “best CD rates.”
In interactions with victims seeking investment possibilities, the scammers pretended to be FINRA broker-dealers claiming to be employed by the financial companies they imitated on the scam sites. They used virtual private networks (VPNs), prepaid gift cards to register web domains, prepaid phone and encrypted applications to interact with their targets, and false invoices to explain the big wire transfers they received from their victims in order to mask their genuine identities during their fraud operations.
According to the Justice Department, at least 150 fake websites have been found as part of the operation thus far. A minimum of 70 victims of the countrywide fraud scam, including those in New Jersey, sent nearly $50 million in what they thought were investments. The accusation of wire fraud conspiracy, which Giltman confessed to today, has a possible sentence of 20 years in jail, while the charge of securities fraud brings a maximum sentence of five years in prison. Both are punishable by fines of $250,000 or double the gross gain or loss from the offense, whichever is greater. Giltman is scheduled to be sentenced on May 10, 2022.