Stratos Sentenced to over 21 Years in Prison
He Defrauded Victims of Over $30M Through Multiple Schemes and Obstructed Justice
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Troy David Stratos, 50, formerly of Los Angeles, was sentenced today by United States District Judge Troy L. Nunley to 21 years and 10 months in prison for multiple counts of mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering and obstruction of justice, United States Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.
U.S. Attorney Talbert stated, “The fraudulent schemes devised and orchestrated by Stratos were staggering in their scope and audacity. Stratos crafted multiple layers of lies and worked to obstruct his victims’ and the authorities’ ability to discover the truth. He preyed upon his victims to satisfy his own voracious greed and desire for a lavish lifestyle. The sentence today reflects the seriousness of his crimes and the harm done to his victims.”
“Despite the complexity of his lies to conceal his schemes, Troy Stratos is, quite simply, a common con artist. He exploited a life-long friendship to live luxuriously while draining the friend’s financial accounts. He also misrepresented himself to others to glean funds for stock shares that never existed to support his fraudulent lifestyle,” said Special Agent in Charge Monica M. Miller of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Sacramento field office. “The FBI will identify and investigate individuals who perpetrate such large-scale fraud to ensure they face justice for their crimes.”
According to court documents and evidence presented during the course of the case, between August 2005 and September 2007, Stratos devised and executed a scheme to defraud his targeted victim of money and property. He told her that he was wealthy and successful, and that, among other things, he had made substantial money from oil investments. Stratos promised that he would help manage the victim’s portion of the proceeds from her recent divorce, including real property in her name and cash assets. Stratos told her that she needed to create a trust allowing Stratos to have access and control over her assets and the trust.
Stratos falsely represented that he would invest the divorce proceeds overseas, including in Dubai and in the United Arab Emirates, where the proceeds would earn a high rate of return. Stratos also falsely represented that he would pay for her expenses from his own money because her money was purportedly invested overseas.
Stratos never invested any money overseas as he promised. Instead, he diverted substantial sums of money from the trust for his own personal use. He also used portions of the money to pay the victim=s expenses, misrepresenting to her that he was spending his own money to pay those expenses.
Further, between February 2007 and April 2007, Stratos was informed of a grand jury subpoena that his bookkeeper had received requiring the production of various financial records relating to Stratos, including documents relating to Stratos’ spending the victim’s money in casinos in Las Vegas. Stratos instructed the bookkeeper to not provide some of the records. In April 2010, the FBI executed a search warrant for a storage locker maintained by Stratos and located the records covered by the grand jury subpoena that were withheld at the direction of Stratos.
Thereafter, beginning in December 2010 and continuing through February 2012, Stratos engaged in a new scheme to defraud Tim Burns, a financial manager in Pennsylvania, of approximately $11,250,000 of investors’ money. Burns was in the market to buy Facebook stock, pre-IPO (initial public offering), for some of his clients in 2011. Stratos, who used the alias “Ken Dennis,” because his own name had numerous negative postings on the internet, told Burns that he represented Carlos Slim, one of the wealthiest individuals in the world. Stratos claimed that Carlos Slim was in the process of purchasing a large block of Facebook shares, and Stratos offered to sell to Burns favorably priced Facebook shares that were in excess of what Carlos Slim was purchasing. Stratos also claimed to be connected with insiders at Facebook, including Mark Zuckerberg, and Facebook’s CFO. Stratos promised increasingly larger amounts of Facebook stock starting at approximately two million shares and up to 40 million shares. Based on the representations by Stratos, Burns sent three wire transfers totaling $11,250,000 to purchase the Facebook stock. The first wire transfer was sent to the client-trust account at Venable LLP, which was the law firm that Stratos had retained. The subsequent wire transfers were sent to bank accounts that Stratos controlled.
Throughout the scheme, Stratos assured Burns that the deal would close at any moment, often promising that the “papers” were about to be signed. Alternatively, Stratos offered to refund to Burns his deposit, even within a few days, but warned Burns that he would regret missing the opportunity to make money.
On December 20, 2011, the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested Stratos in Los Angeles for the earlier fraud scheme. Stratos, through text messages and a telephone call, continued to tell Burns that the deal was real and that he could refund Burns’ money. By this time, Stratos had spent nearly all of the $11.25 million.
At sentencing, the court found that Stratos also engaged in other fraudulent conduct. The United States has estimated that Stratos obtained in excess of $43 million in fraudulent proceeds between in 1996 and his arrest in 2011.
A hearing was held to determine restitution. The court took it under submission and will issue a written order.
This case was the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorneys Todd Pickles and Jared Dolan prosecuted the case.
Stratos has remained in custody since his in arrest in 2011.