Andrew Katz aka Ross Katz aka Stark Katz, the co-founder of so-called digital asset infrastructure and crypto-currency trading firm Seaquake.io, who along with his partner Matthew J. Krueger of San Francisco are facing investor fraud charges, is now slated to appear in New York Criminal Court April 30 to answer one count of felony assault, one count of grand larceny and one count of aggravated harassment. Katz, whose bail was set at $200,000 had him posting $100,000 in cash, which sources believe to have emanated from funds that Katz and his partner Matthew J. Krueger of San Francisco hoodwinked from a Florida-based family office 18 months ago.
Defendant Katz, who apparently still promotes himself on the firm’s website as co-founder of the so-called digital asset infrastructure company “Seaquake.io” was arrested this past November in New York and now faces 2nd Degree Felony Assault Charges (a class D felony), one count of Grand Larceny ( an E Felony) and one charge of aggravated harassment. If Katz is found guilty or if decides to plead guilty and save the court system the aggravation of having to deal with him, he could be sentenced to a minimum of 2 years in prison.
Attention “Tomas Ruso” , individual who claims to operate hijacked news aggregation blog “globalexpressmedianews.blogspot” You have scrapped original content from MarketsMuse, published on your ‘site’, and then submitted a fraudulent claim report to DMCA alleging you are the original content publisher. You have apparently done the same with multiple other original content sites and you are providing fictitious information, including name, telephone, address to DMCA within your ‘copyright infringement claims.” BTW- The address you claim as 1693 Reynolds Alley, Los Angeles does not exist. The telephone number you provided 562-279-1285 is a non-working number. The email you provided infers you are an attorney. There is only one attorney in California with the name you are using, and that attorney has stated ‘someone has clearly committed ID fraud if they are using my name!”
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Katz and Krueger, who have been labeled “the Crypto Kleptos” and The Seaquake Slimeboys” by several people interviewed, are also said to be facing a pending list of other criminal matters, including SBA PPP bank loan fraud. Public records indicate that Mssrs. Katz and Krueger applied for a PPP loan for Seaquake OPS LLC, a Wyoming entity that Seaquake corporate presentations have identified as one of several Seaquake companies. Seaquake OPS LLC did receive a Paycheck Protection Loan of $22,813 through Wells Fargo Bank, National Association, in May, 2020.
Whether Katz or Krueger (or jointly) prepared the loan application, when listing employees, Selen Katz was identified as the company’s Creative Director (whose employment with Seaquake, according to her LinkedIn profile, started in April of 2020. According to police records in Los Angeles and New York, the current assault charge is the latest in a series of at least five prior domestic abuse arrests for Katz.
Manhattan District Attorney’s office would not provide details as to Katz’s current place of residence, yet he is suspected of squirming through an assortment of Airbnb rentals in Southern California while awaiting his April 30 court appearance, as well as New York City. In various documents, Katz also lists residences in Arvada Colorado (his mother Allyson Katz’s residence), and lists addresses in California and Florida in various bank account documents obtained by court order. According to public databases, Katz has prior assault charges, along with charges of harassment, breaking and entering, stalking throughout the past several years.
In the Florida securities and investor fraud case, in which defendants Katz and Krueger are charged with defrauding a Family Office it’s alleged that the Seaquake Slimeboys (mis) represented they were operating a start-up business and told investors that their several hundred thousand dollar investment in August 2019 was for balance-sheet purposes only and to show pending venture investors the company did have other investors and assets on the balance sheet, and a portion of the capital would be deployed to a proprietary “high-frequency trading” application for crypto currencies. Alas, there were no pending VC investors and there was no actual trading application. Katz and Krueger moved the investor funds from one bank to another and then to a Coinbase account and thereafter to crpto exchange Binance. It is easy to suspect that Katz and Krueger (a former PayPal employee fluent in cryptocurrency) have been enjoying the 6-fold increase in the price of bitcoin since the initial investor fraud took place.
With today’s announcement from Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) indicating they are that much closer to a Covid-19 vaccine, its time to look forward to who the Biden administration will appoint to prosecute the tens of thousands of SBA PPP loan scammers who reaped tens of billions after the Trump administration made it a simple feat to fill out a form and run with the money.
The SBA has recently published a list that contains thousands of companies that received over $150k each. Many received several million dollars. And, the SBA is scheduled to release an even more comprehensive list comprised of tens of thousands of companies that received less than $150k. The current list and the one soon to come out provides a roadmap to criminal enterprises and unsavory categories.
Propublica is making the interrogation easy for amateur sleuths.
Take for example a company known as SOSV Payroll LLC, and its interesting connection to a company profiled here last year, “Seaquake.io”, which appears to be not much more than a spiderweb of intertwined shell companies that claims to build software applications for trading cryptocurrency. Our prior reporting has led most to appreciate that if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it is a duck, and within the context of investor scams, Seaquake is the queen of ducks, especially when its former business development executive stated “they sell nothing but vaporware and nobody has bought it, other than investors who were deceived into buying into the company.”
SOSV Payroll is a Delaware entity with a principal office in Princeton, NJ and according to corporate filing records, is structured as a “Foreign Limited Liability Company.” The company also registered with the State of Colorado in February 2019. According to SBA PPP loan application documents filed in April 2020, they say they have 30 employees. The SBA PPP loan was approved and made via First Republic Bank for somewhere between $350k-$1million.
Of interest, this entity is a direct affiliate of Ireland-based venture fund “SOSV, The Accelerator VC”, which claims to have $700m in AUM. Soon after receiving the SBA loan, SOSV announced they made a direct investment in the above-mentioned Seaquake.io, a holding company with multiple corporate shells including in Colorado. More relevant, Seaquake has been a defendant in multiple actions, including allegations of investor fraud brought against Seaquake CFO Matthew Krueger and co-founder Andrew Ross Stark aka Ross Stark aka Stark Katz. According to criminal background searches, Katz has a lengthy history of charges ranging from breaking and entering to domestic violence to stalking.
UPDATED MARCH 2020: Add a bank loan fraud perpetrated by Katz and Krueger in connection with Seaquake OPS LLC, a Wyoming entity that is part of the web of Seaquake companies. Recently discovered, Seaquale OPS LLC did in fact apply for and did receive a Paycheck Protection Loan of $22,813 through Wells Fargo Bank, National Association, which was approved in May, 2020. In that loan application, Selen Katz, former wife of Andrew Katz, and the victim identified in the felony assault charge is identified as an employee of Seaquake. Her title, according to a LinkedIn profile is “creative director” and her date of employment is the same month in which the PPP Loan was applied for.
We don’t know why an affiliate to a $700m AUM Ireland-based venture fund needed to apply for an SBA PPP loan. We don’t know if it’s kosher or not. We do know that the SBA PPP loan program has been exploited by tens of thousands of firms. How or if President-elect Joe Biden and his Vice President, Kamala Harris, the former California Attorney General will be able to claw back and/or prosecute those who submitted false loan documents and received taxpayer money is a question that may never be answered. The good news is that detailed data regarding more than $100bil in loans handed out, including the business names and addresses pertaining to the millions who received loans in amounts under $150k is expected to be released in December.
The above-referenced Seaquake enterprise (first exposed by MarketsMuse last October after Law360.com published a federal lawsuit against the company and its principals) also has corporate shell registrations in California, Wyoming, Florida, and the United Kingdom (at last count). According to confidential sources, at least two of its subsidiaries will be unveiled for having received SBA PPP loan support, despite former insiders acknowledging the company has no product, has no customers, and no documented salaried employees, other than Mssrs. Katz and Krueger, and in April (immediately prior to submitting loan applications), a new LinkedIn profile indicated this company added a “creative designer”, who also happens to be co-founder Katz’s wife. Ms. Katz also appears to be a fashion model and Instagram influencer, according to her profile at www.instagram/seloupe.
Now that Pfizer appears to be one step closer to solving the Covid-19 vaccine crisis, one can hope that we will all go back to business, including SBA, IRS, and state fraud investigators, who can focus on bringing SBA loan predators to justice.
PPP and EIDL Fraud is as rampant as COVID-19. According to the front page story appearing in the New York Times April 26 edition, hundreds of millions of dollars in SBA bailout funds that were intended by the US Treasury to assist small businesses impacted by COVID-19 via the Paycheck Protection Program and EIDL Loan Program have been siphoned off by public companies, private equity-backed companies and thousands of small businesses, many of the latter don’t really exist other than in name only.
To many financial crime investigators who are fluent in the failings of US government’s effort to support businesses that have suffered from the pandemic, it is no surprise that tens of millions of dollars have gone to scamsters and fraud artists, including those who have been recently indicted or have been under investigation by federal law enforcement and federal and state regulatory agencies.
Shocking?! Nah. According to one senior investigator from The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) “However well-intended, the PPP and EIDL loan programs created the perfect opportunity for serial financial fraud artists to exploit loopholes that a teenager could drive a Boeing jet through. PPP and EIDL fraud is rampant.”
In addition to the assortment of rogues that were outed in the above-referenced NYT coverage, it appears that individuals running a so-called fintech company called Seaquake.io, which claims to “specialize in digital asset infrastructure” along with “crypto currency trading applications” and profiled here and other online media outlets back in October, are back at it again.
Informed sources have indicated having direct knowledge that Seaquake.io principals Andrew Katz and Matthew Krueger, who have been cited in federal court for an assortment of investor fraud and wire fraud allegations, had recently filed SBA loan applications for as many as six different Seaquake entities, including Colorado-registered Seaquake Inc., Seaquake Manager LLC, Seaquake LP, Wyoming-based Seaquake OPS LLC, and a California entity, Seaquake Capital LP. Each of these entities list both Andrew R. Katz and Matthew Krueger as controlling officers.
AVEM Ventures LLC, a Colorado entity identified along with each of the above in a federal civil court action, lists Katz as the controlling officer and a Kenneth S. Katz as the registered agent. This entity is also believed to have applied for loans and grants intended for businesses that have been impaired by the COVID-19 pandemic.
There is only one problem, the company is a scam, according to a former business development executive for Seaquake, who worked for the company while he was also registered with Finra as a senior executive for San Francisco based brokerdealer US Capital Global. That former employee (his tenure lasted all of 7 months and he has since moved to the role of ” Director, Digital Wealth Solutions” for Apex Clearing Corp.” has stated “Seaquake is not a real business; the product(s) they claim to have are “nothing more than vaporware”; they have no employees drawing salaries other than Katz, (who recently added his wife Selen to the ‘payroll’, though it would appear that her full-time job is that of an Instagram influencer, along with Krueger and UK-based Dylan Knight, who is listed as the chief technology officer on corporate documents. This is all despite claims made on the company website as to having multiple employees; “a canard”, according to one source who says the “serial fabrications made by the company are advanced further by fraudulent representations made in an assortment of investor solicitation documents the company has sent to dozens of individuals and fund managers.”
Katz was seen in December vacationing at a resort in Cabo with his swimsuit model wife, a Turkish national whose opportunity to apply for US citizenship comes on the third anniversary of their marriage, August 2 2020. How the US Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) or Department of Homeland Security view applicants who are married to accused money launders is only something those agencies can respond to. In early March 2020, the couple was spotted posing for photos on the beach in Southampton, New York. It is rumored that Katz is now hiding out in New York City. Neither he or his San Francisco-based partner Krueger, both accused of defrauding at least several investors, including a Florida-based family office this past August, have made themselves available for comment.
The San Francisco branch of BBVA Compass Bank, the bank of record for an assortment of Seaquake enterprises, had no comment has to whether they facilitated EIDL loan processing or payments to the Seaquake’s alleged criminal enterprise.
One can only hope that FBI and SEC efforts lead to a long-term quarantine for these individuals.
(Source: Law360.com ) Andrew R. Katz, aka Ross Katz, aka Stark Katz an Arvada, Colorado man who is last known to reside in either of New York City or Southern California, and uses California, Colorado, Florida and New York drivers licenses while claiming to be a former FX trader for EFG Bank, and who now presents himself as co-founder of Seaquake.io, a”digital asset infrastructure company”, along with Seaquake CFO Matthew J. Krueger of San Francisco, who claims to be a former PayPal “Finance Manager” and the former “Head of Finance” for Venmo, have both been named as Defendants in a Federal Court complaint alleging the two men advanced a systematic scheme to defraud a Florida-based investor group. Also named in the action is Dylan Knight, a UK man who is listed as a co-founder and Chief Technology Officer for the company. The Federal Court complaint cites multiple accounts of securities fraud, fraud in the inducement, and wire fraud.
According to a Zurich-based private equity fund manager who had been repeatedly approached by Katz to invest, “All of the patented elements of old-fashioned investor fraud have been perpetrated by these Seaquake characters, casting yet another shadow of skepticism on the entire digital asset industry. It is amazing how brazen these individuals are. Based on their apparent actions, one can hope that law enforcement officials will do their jobs and prosecute these people quickly. Even if the wheels of justice spin slow, anyone in the industry should be alert to these people and be aware they have already destroyed any future professional career in any industry.”
According to the Federal Court complaint, Katz lists former jobs at UBS Bank and EFG Capital in investor offering documents, the company’s website, as well as his Linkedin profile, despite Finra having no record of Katz being licensed by that securities industry regulator at any time, and despite EFG Capital having no record of his employment. More importantly, the court filings include a series of email communications, text messages, and group chat messages on Linkedin in which Katz and Krueger made a series of fraudulent representations that induced the investors to enter into a so-called “SAFE Agreement” with the company. Investors were of the belief the funds would be deployed to a high-frequency trading application that Seaquake principals, including so-called CTO Dylan Knight of the UK, claimed to be operating.
JANUARY 2021 UPDATE: SEAQUAKE CO-FOUNDER ANDREW KATZ CHARGED WITH FELONY ASSAULT AND GRAND LARCENY IN NEW YORK; FACES MINIMUM 2 YEAR PRISON SENTENCE
According to the complaint, only several days after the investors executed the agreement with the company and wiring funds to a Seaquake account at Signature Bank in New York, Katz then informed the investors the high-frequency trading application was “not in fact in production and the [investor] funds would be placed into a money market account until such time as the software was ‘production ready.” Defendants Krueger and Katz also made a series of assertions as to pending institutional investors who committed to providing capital to Seaquake, all of which turned out to be false, according to the filing. According to court documents and independent background searches, it turns out that Katz has driver licenses in New York, Florida, Colorado, and California, and is also registered to vote in Florida.
UPDATE MARCH 2021: SEAQUAKE ENTITY ‘SEAQUAKE OPS LLC’, A WYOMING CORPORATE SHELL NOW SUSPECTED OF SBA LOAN FRAUD; APPLIED FOR AND RECEIVED PPP-RELATED LOAN
This latest charge adds to a pending list of other criminal matters, including a likely bank loan fraud perpetrated by Katz and Krueger in connection with Seaquake OPS LLC, a Wyoming entity that is part of the web of Seaquake companies. Recently discovered, Seaquale OPS LLC did in fact apply for and did receive a Paycheck Protection Loan of $22,813 through Wells Fargo Bank, National Association, which was approved in May, 2020. In that loan application, Selen Katz, former wife of Andrew Katz, and the victim identified in the felony assault charge is identified as an employee of Seaquake. Her title, according to a LinkedIn profile is “creative director” and her date of employment is the same month in which the PPP Loan was applied for.
Katz has a history of criminal charges, from trespassing charges in New York to domestic abuse charges in Los Angeles. This private investigator’s backgroundreport is telling. Other background searches indicate that Katz, along with his mother, Alyson Katz of Arvada, Colorado were plaintiffs in a class action law suit brought against a Utah-based school for emotionally-challenged youth, a facility that Katz was apparently sent to by his parents and attended for at least two years while he was a teenager.
If only Andrew Katz’s wife, Selen Katz, a Turkish national and Instagram Influencer who apparently works as a swimsuit model, didn’t need Katz to help her secure a Green Card. Otherwise, perhaps she’d realize that being married to a scam artist is not the path to a happy future in the U.S. More important, actions pending against Katz could raise eyebrows from US immigration authorities who will be evaluating her request for citizenship. She should hope that more recent frauds committed by her husband and his partner in connection with PPP loans don’t add fuel to the criminal investigation fire burning under their butts.
Back to the primary coverage….Once the investors realized they had been scammed and then demanded the return of the funds, Katz and Krueger took steps to dissolve “Seaquake Partners LP”, the corporate entity the investors sent their funds to, according to the corporate register agent. According to records in the filing, Defendants Katz and Krueger wrote to the investor informing “we will not communicate with your attorney and we have no obligation to provide any further information..” Concurrently, the Defendants transferred the investor funds from the company account at Signature Bank in New York to multiple, newly-created Seaquake entity accounts at a Compass Bank BBVA branch in California, near where Krueger lives. Thereafter, bank records indicate Katz and Krueger dispersed the funds to various internal company accounts, and then transferred a bulk of the investor’s funds to crypto exchange Coinbase, which they moved days later to crypto exchange and custody platform Binance.
As acknowledged by the defendants’ attorney, Yasin Daneshfar of Florida law firm Becker and Poliakoff, Katz and Krueger also moved tens of thousands of dollars to personal accounts the defendants established at Compass Bank. Attorney Daneshfar argued “the so-called “SAFE Agreement” did not preclude the defendants from dispersing the money as they saw fit.” Daneshfar further acknowledged in a recent court appearance that, in addition to the defendants enriching themselves with much of the investor’s funds, the investors’ funds have also been used by Katz and Krueger to pay the Becker law firm in their effort to defend themselves against the investors in federal court. When challenged with this use of funds by the federal court judge who pointed to the series of communications from Katz to the investors, Attorney Daneshfar was said to have responded to the judge with a smirk and a shrug of his shoulders.
While much of the information obtained in the federal court filings may seem to be the source of good fodder for a ten cent crime novel, according to one Switzerland-based venture capital executive who is focused on the digital currency space and who had also been solicited by Seaquake to serve as both an advisor and to provide investment funds, “All of the patented elements of old-fashioned investor fraud have been perpetrated by these Seaquake characters, casting yet another shadow of skepticism on the entire digital asset industry. It is amazing how brazen these individuals are. Based on their apparent actions, and whether or not they get caught by law enforcement officials, they have effectively destroyed any future professional career in any industry.”
Despite all of the shenanigans, David Streltsoff, a Senior Vice President for San Francisco broker-dealer “US Capital Global” and a former salesman for high-frequency trading firms was apparently not deterred from associating himself with Seaquake. According to his LinkedIn profile in the months of September through November 2019, Streltsoff served as “Business Development Executive” for the company, while also a registered broker-dealer for US Capital. Streltsoff’s rofile was updated at the end of November after Streltsoff was served with a federal court subpoena for information pertaining to his involvement with Seaquake. According to a former investigative journalist, now a due diligence advisor to fund managers evaluating crypto startups, Streltsoff told him “It took one too many days for me to figure out this company was peddling nothing more than vaporware, and the scam accusations against them were eye-opening, so I terminated my association with them.” Jeffrey Sweeney, the CEO of US Capital Global has not replied to inquiries.
Update: Since the litigation was filed, at least one other investor has been identified as having been scammed. That investor was apparently introduced to the company in June 2019 by a friend who was employed by Seaquake.io as “business development executive.” That friend sent the investor a so-called Safe Agreement, along with wire payment instructions to a Seaquake bank account held by a Bank of America branch in Colorado. Once that investor learned of the recent court action, the investor contacted Katz and demanded the return of the money sent to Seaquake in July. Katz replied via email stating “we have no record of having executed a Safe Agreement with you, and the former employee provided you with incorrect wire instructions, so we never received your money, and we don’t owe you anything.” When the investor provided Katz and Krueger with Bank of America correspondence that affirmed the Seaquake account information was correct and confirmation from the bank the wire payment had in fact been credited to the account Katz created, Katz ceased all further communication. That investor has since filed a criminal complaint and the former executive is said to be cooperating with law enforcement authorities. Perhaps Mr. William Bao Bean, a principal of SOSV Ventures / Chinaccelerator –which recently disclosed making an investment in “Seaquakes”, as did Jeremy Colless, Managing Partner of down-under VC “Artesian Capital” both failed to get the memo…(?)
In November, the federal court judge lifted the temporary restraining order on bank accounts controlled by Seaquake principals Katz and Krueger, and cited concerns as to whether the Florida court was the appropriate jurisdiction to litigate the action. Plaintiffs are expected to continue the litigation.
Katz was last seen in December at the Hotel Kai Tulum resort in Cabo San Lucas vacationing with his wife, who posted an assortment of photos baring ‘birthday bling’ while sipping margaritas.