Syed Arbab, the 2019 University of Georgia graduate accused of running a Ponzi scheme out of his fraternity house by the Securities and Exchange Commission, pleaded guilty on Oct. 11 to securities fraud, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Georgia announced.
Arbab defrauded 117 investors for approximately $1 million, spending the money on himself. Among his expenses were “clothing, shoes, retail purchases, fine dining, alcoholic beverages, adult entertainment and interstate travel, including spending thousands of dollars gambling during three trips to Las Vegas in 2018,” according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s office.
“Unfortunately this case is a stark reminder to investors to be very careful where they entrust their hard earned money, and always be skeptical of offers that sound too good to be true,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta in the release. “The victims of this scheme, many of them students, will never recover their losses, but can rest assured that Arbab’s greed will not go unpunished.”
Arbab, who ran his scheme out of the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity house on West Broad Street, faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison, a $10,000 fine and three years supervised release. The court, overseen by United States District Judge C. Ashley Royal, also has the power to order restitution. Arbab will be sentenced in January in Athens.
From May 2018 to May 2019, Arbab solicited investors, many of them fellow students, to invest in his companies Artis Proficio Capital Management and Artis Proficio Capital Investments. He “fabricated account statements, misrepresented the fund’s returns, the number of investors, the total funds invested and the nature of the investment plays being made,” according to the release.
Promising rates of returns as high as 22% or 56% and a “risk-free” guarantee on the first $15,000 invested, Arbab admitted he did not have the liquid capital to pay back investors. According to the release, he also falsely claimed a “famous NFL player and UGA alumnus” had invested in his company.
Arbab, a 22-year-old from Augusta, graduated from UGA in May. He falsely claimed on his website that he was enrolled in a Master of Business Administration in UGA’s Terry College of Business, though Arbab “had applied to and been rejected by” the program, according to the release. According to his LinkedIn page, Arbab studied cell biology and anatomy at UGA.