A Massapequa man pleaded guilty Wednesday to a securities fraud conspiracy that defrauded investors of more than $700,000 in stock investments, federal prosecutors said.
Mark Allen Lisser, 40, pleaded guilty before a federal judge Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Central Islip to one count of conspiracy to commit security fraud for lying to investors who had sought to buy shares in the initial public offerings (IPOs) of several companies he didn’t own.
Between October 2018 and January 2019, federal prosecutors said, Lisser told investors that his Delaware-based company, Knightsbridge Private Partners LLC, owned the shares it was selling before they went public.
The Knightsbridge company ran a series of websites and call centers promoting early IPO stock options but didn't own any of the shares it was selling, federal officials said. The company, its employees and Lisser earned money and commissions from investors with each transaction, but told investors they didn’t make any money until the stocks went public.
Prosecutors said Lisser took in $700,000 from investors used instead to pay salaries and commissions to Knightsbridge companies and employees. Authorities said he also used funds to pay his personal credit card and make mortgage payments. His company was associated with four brokerage firms expelled from the securities industry, the criminal complaint said.
Lisser was arrested by the FBI in December. A cooperating witness worked with undercover law enforcement agents and provided Lisser with a list of potential clients who were actually undercover agents, according to the criminal complaint.
The company raised $2 million from investors, but only $1.2 million was paid to companies Knightsbridge agreed to purchase shares from, according to the complaint.
"With today’s guilty plea, the defendant admits to personally profiting from the false representations he made to his customers about the nature of their investments in valuable pre-IPO companies," acting U.S. Attorney Mark Lesko said in a statement.
Lisser’s Manhattan-based defense attorney could not be reached for comment.
His plea reduces his potential prison sentence to five years in prison, from up to a potential 20-year sentence when he was first charged with wire fraud, the U.S. Attorney's office said.