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Friday, August 12, 2016

ALLEGED FALSE CLAIMS LEADS TO SEC FRAUD CHARGES AGAINST INVESTMENT ADVISER

FROM:  U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION 
SEC: Investment Adviser Boasted Phony Assets and Track Record, Stole From Client
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
2016-161

Washington D.C., Aug. 11, 2016 — The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced fraud charges against a San Francisco man and his investment advisory firm accused of pretending to manage millions of dollars in assets and then stealing money from the first client who invested with them based on their misrepresentations.

The SEC alleges that Nicholas M. Mitsakos and Matrix Capital Markets, which is a state-registered investment adviser in California, solicited investors in a purported hedge fund while falsely marketing themselves as experienced money managers with a highly successful track record.  They claimed assets under management in the millions when in fact they did not manage any client assets at all, and they fabricated a hypothetical portfolio of investments earning 20 to 66 percent annual returns and passed it off to investors as real trading.  When Mitsakos and Matrix Capital Markets were given $2 million in client assets to manage in September 2015, they proceeded to steal approximately $800,000 from that client and used most of it to pay for unauthorized personal and business expenses.

“We allege that Mitsakos and his firm tried to lure prospective investors with a mirage of assets under management and phony performance results, and when they finally won some actual business from a client, they proceeded to steal a large portion of it,” said Andrew M. Calamari, Director of the SEC’s New York Regional Office.  “Whenever pitched an investment opportunity with claims of lofty historical performance, it’s important for investors to take the time to verify the information and make sure they’re getting the truth before deciding to invest.”

In a parallel action, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York today announced criminal charges against Mitsakos.

The SEC’s complaint was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and charges Mitsakos and Matrix Capital Markets with violating the antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws.  Mitsakos also is charged with aiding and abetting Matrix Capital’s violations.  The SEC seeks permanent injunctions and disgorgement of ill-gotten gains plus penalties.

The SEC’s continuing investigation is being conducted by Alison R. Levine, Kerri Palen, Alex Janghorbani, and Valerie A. Szczepanik, and the case is supervised by Lara S. Mehraban.  The litigation will be led by Alex Janghorbani and Alison R. Levine.  The SEC appreciates the assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.

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