Phony Facebook Share Scam Gets Florida Man 11 Years

A South Florida man charged with running a $13.6 million scam involving nonexistent shares in companies including Facebook Inc. and Groupon Inc. was sentenced to 11 years in prison.

John Mattera, 51, called a “reverse Robin Hood” by a prosecutor in Manhattan today, used the millions he stole to fund a lavish lifestyle that included a waterfront home in Fort Lauderdale, jewelry, two Rolls-Royces, a Ferrari and a Lamborghini, according to the government. Some of his victims lost their life savings in the scam.

“These crimes were just so selfish, so callous toward the victims,” U.S. District Judge Richard Sullivan told Mattera before sentencing him today.

Mattera, who had four earlier convictions for fraud and theft, admitted in October to using his fund, Praetorian Global Fund Ltd., to defraud more than 140 investors. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy, securities fraud, wire fraud and money laundering.

In addition to the prison time, the judge imposed three years’ supervised release and $11.8 million in forfeiture, in line with a plea agreement. Restitution will be determined later.

Prosecutors claimed that Mattera controlled a group of 10 Delaware limited-liability companies set up to hold stock in nonpublic companies that were expected to make initial public offerings.

Contempt Finding

In October, a judge in a related suit filed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission against Mattera found him and his mother, Ann Mattera, in contempt of court for violating an order freezing their assets.

U.S. District Judge Kevin Castel found that Mattera sold the Lamborghini for $28,000 and borrowed $114,000, which he transferred to his mother.

“You’ve left a lot of wreckage in your path, and you do have to be punished for that,” Sullivan said today.

The case is U.S. v. Mattera, 11-cr-02947, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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