THOUSAND OAKS (CBSLA.com) — Authorities in Thousand Oaks have announced the arrest of a man they say was trying to sell phony Facebook shares to unsuspecting members of the public.
Officials were first contacted on May 17 when a woman told them a man who called himself Michael Russo approached her about selling shares of Facebook stock — before the company went public — at a discounted price.
The would-be victim’s suspicions were raised and she called the Thousand Oaks Police Department. Deputies subsequently contacted the individual named Russo. He was later identified as a man named Michael Freedman.
Authorities reportedly found documents regarding the potential sale of the Facebook shares. They also found names of other potential victims. The documents had logos of a major financial institution and a Silicon Valley based capital venture firm that indicated that Russo/Freedman had Facebook shares to sell and a multi-million dollar trust fund available to him.
During the course of the investigation, the documents were determined to be fraudulent. Detectives also determined Freedman had allegedly sold the phone Facebook shares to another female victim for $10,000.
Freedman was arrested on September 9 in Inglewood. He is currently behind bars at the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office Pre-Trial Detention Facility. Freedman is awaiting a court hearing for grand theft, theft by false pretenses, burglary, and attempted grand theft charges.
Officials urge residents to protect themselves from fraud by always verifying the person they’re doing business with. A legitimate salesperson will have a securities license and be registered with the California State Department of Corporations.