A New York City man who started planning a $14 million investment scam while he was serving time in prison for an earlier multi-million-dollar fraud, has now been charged criminally and civilly for the second alleged offense.
Edward Durante cheated at least 100 investors out of their money and used much of it for himself, according to announcements Friday from the Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
Durante used several different names to pull off the fraud, including Ted Wise, Efran Eisenberg, Anthony Walsh, Ed Simmons and Yulia (no last name). He has been arrested on charges of conspiracy, securities fraud, wire fraud, money laundering and perjury.
In the latest scheme he supposedly sold shares in a publicly traded, over-the-counter company call VGTel Inc. He used $9 million of the $14 million he raised between 2009 and 2015 for a lavish lifestyle for himself, and for his family and co-conspirators, the U.S. Attorney says.
He started the new scheme as soon as he was released from prison for a similar fraud. In addition to the prison sentence, he was ordered to pay $39 million in disgorgement and interest for the first fraud, the U.S. Attorney says.
In a separate action, the SEC announced civil charges against Durante. The SEC complaint alleges VGTel was a shell company that Durante controlled and that the stocks in the company were worthless. He began laying the groundwork for his scheme while still in prison, using the name Anthony Walsh to gain control of VGTel. He then hid his criminal background from new clients, the SEC says.
“As alleged, Edward Durante no sooner got out of prison from a prior securities fraud conviction than he started another fraud scheme,” says U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. “Picking up where he left off, Durante allegedly lied to investors about how their money would be used, and concealed his manipulation of the market for a publicly traded stock. Edward Durante now stands charged with securities fraud yet again.”