Two Columbus investors fall victim to national investment scheme
CBS - 3 WRBL (Columbus, GA)
COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – Two Columbus investors fell victim to a national fraud scheme that defrauded them more than $369,000, according to the United States Attorney's Office for Middle District of Georgia.
Today, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charged venture capital firm Vika Ventures LLC and its CEO and co-founder, George Iakovou, 29, with fraudulently offering and selling more than $6 million of securities to at least 46 individual investors in multiple states including California, Georgia and New York.
If convicted, Iakovou faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the wire fraud charges and a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the monetary transactions involving criminally derived property charges.
Co-defendant, Penelope Zbravos, 27, was charged with one count of misprision of a felony. If convicted, Zbravos faces a maximum sentence of four years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Court documents show that Iakovou allegedly defrauded investors under his company, Vika Ventures LLC, in a scheme involving pre-IPO investments. Pre-IPO investments are investments in shares of private companies before those companies become listed on a public stock market exchange. Iakovou is CEO and Zbravos was the financial manager of the investment firm located in New York, New York.
According to the indictment, Iakovou would tell victim-investors that he had access to shares in specific private companies. However, he didn't have access or the ability to obtain the pre-IPO shares. This went on from Dec 2019 to Dec 30, 2021.
Iakovou allegedly sent victim-investors fraudulent documentation pertaining to the price of
shares and company profiles. Vika advertised the ability to sell pre-IPOs for high-profile
companies including Airbnb, Palantir, Coupang, Stripe and SpaceX.
Iakovou sent emailed instructions for victim-investors to send money to a Vika bank account but
he is alleged to have not purchased or delivered the shares of the specific companies to the victims. Co-defendant Zbravos is alleged to have gained knowledge of the fraud through
transferring money from Vika accounts to various accounts controlled by her and Iakovou.
Individuals who believe they may be a victim of this investment fraud can contact the U.S. Secret
Service, Albany, Georgia, Resident Agency at 229-430-8442.
This case is being investigated by the U.S.Secret Service and SEC. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Williams is prosecuting the case.