COLUMBUS, GA – The CEO of a New York-based venture capital firm pleaded guilty in a wire fraud conspiracy case impacting more than 50 investors.
George Iakovou, 30, of New York, New York, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud on Aug. 8 before U.S. District Judge Clay Land. If convicted, Iakovou faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 19.
“George Iakovou defrauded more than 50 people from around the country of millions of dollars, using these stolen funds to buy luxury items and travel in private jets,” U.S. Attorney Peter D. Leary said. “This jet-setting con artist will now be held accountable, thanks to the hard work of the Secret Service, working in conjunction with our office.”
“George Iakovou is another example of how fraudsters are getting more sophisticated with their schemes to steal money,” said Resident Agent in Charge Clint Bush with the U.S. Secret Service’s Albany, Georgia, Resident Office. “Iakovou created a fictious capital firm for the sole purpose of defrauding American citizens. Iakovou then utilized the stolen funds to live a lavish lifestyle, without regard to the victims. Iakovou’s greed will have an everlasting effect on the victims he defrauded. The United States Secret Service will continue to investigate, arrest and support the successful prosecution of the criminals who choose to commit this and other types of financial fraud in our community and around the nation. “
According to court documents, in July 2021, the U.S. Secret Service (USSS) began investigating a pre-IPO (initial public offering) scheme orchestrated by Iakovou, the CEO of Vika Ventures LLC, a boutique venture capital firm headquartered in New York which purported to specialize in pre-IPO investments in various early and late-stage private companies.
Iakovou advertised that Vika had access to buy pre-IPO shares in private companies such as Palantir, Airbnb, SpaceX and Stripe. He claimed that once these private companies went public and the mandatory six-month lockout period expired, Vika would distribute the purchased shares to the investors. In fact, Iakovou had neither access to pre-IPO shares in the advertised companies nor owned the shares at the time of the solicitations. While Iakovou did take the victim-investors’ money, he did not purchase or acquire any of the promised shares. Iakovou established fake email domains, posed as representatives from private equity brokerage firms and created fake bank statements among other tricks to carry out his fraud scheme.
USSS identified more than 50 victim-investors from across the country who provided capital to Vika between Jan. 2020 and Dec. 2021, including two victims in the Middle District of Georgia. A review of bank records for Vika’s investor account showed that identified victim-investors paid Vika approximately $5,958,505 for the purchase of pre-IPO shares of select private companies, but none received their promised shares. Iakovou rerouted the money to several accounts, including personal bank accounts, and used the money for private jet charters, cars, home furnishings, artwork, luxury clothing and accessories. For example, Iakovou spent $135,528 on a 2021 Corvette Stingray and more than $500,000 on luxury watches, including $231,799 on a single Patek Philippe timepiece.
This case is being investigated by the U.S. Secret Service. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) brought a related civil action against Iakovou.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Williams is prosecuting the case.