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.
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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.
(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.