Textbook Con Job, Elderly Man Says

     REDWOOD CITY, Calif. (CN) – An Orange County businessman defrauded an elderly Californian of his life’s savings of $1.3 million by enlisting Republican Party luminaries to praise his business, and the 71-year-old man is facing homelessness, his attorney says.
     Josef Kofman’s attorney Anne Marie Murphy describes defendant Alexy Pitt as a serial fraudster in multilevel marketing schemes and pyramid schemes.
     “We brought this case because it’s a valid elder abuse claim, but we also want to publicize that Alex Pitt is taking advantage of people by creating these companies one after another,” Murphy said in an interview.
     Kofman sued Pitt and his companies NetVence, Lucrazon Global and three other Lucrazon entities in San Mateo County Court.
     Kofman, a Russian émigré who worked an engineer, says Pitt took him for his life’s savings, and as a result, “Mr. Kofman is soon to be homeless.”
     Pitt too is a Russian émigré, who lives in Laguna Niguel and runs his fraudulent business out of Irvine, according to the June 21 complaint.
     “This case represents one of the most egregious examples of financial elder abuse imaginable,” the complaint begins. “Defendants stole Mr. Kofman’s entire life savings, including every penny of his retirement savings.”
     It continues: “Defendants brought in political luminaries including Mitt Romney (the former governor of Massachusetts and the Republican Party’s nominee for president of the United States in the 2012 election) and Hector V. Barreto (administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration under George W. Bush) to give the appearance of legitimacy to what they described as a Ecommerce technology company.”
     Neither Romney nor Barreto are parties to the complaint.
     After meeting through mutual friends in the Russian-American community, Kofman says, Pitt asked him to invest in his startup, which he called a revolutionary way for small businesses to function online.
     Kofman says he gave Pitt $695,000 in 2012, $478,351 in 2013, another $187,400 in 2014, and another $33,860 in 2015. He says the defendants took all of the money he had in IRAs: $199,145 in 2013, $38,300 in 2014, and $115,807 in 2015.
     His life savings gone, Kofman says, he sent texts and tried to call Pitt by phone, pleading that if he didn’t get some money he would not be able to buy food, but Pitt ignored him.
     “When Mr. Kofman last spoke to Mr. Pitt in May 2016, Mr. Pitt told Mr. Kofman to be patient — he would be paid soon and ‘Donald Trump says you need to withstand pressure to be successful in business,” the complaint states.
     Though Kofman did not sue the Republican Party bigwigs, he says some of their ties go deeper than mere puffery.
     Barreto became president of Lucrazon in April 2014 and recruited members of the Latino community to invest money in the operation, attorney Murphy said in the interview.
     Barreto can be seen in a Lucrazon Global promotional video uploaded to Youtube in June 2014, touting the benefits of Lucrazon and Pitt.
     In the video, Barreto calls Pitt “a real leader in his industry of electronic payments and credit card processing and of course now he is the genius the Lucrazon model.”
     The complaint cites the video, Lucrazon press releases, and an April 12, 2014 “rebranding” conference at the Los Angeles Convention Center, where Pitt “brought in Republican luminaries,” including Romney and Barreto, to give Pitt and Lucrazon “the appearance of legitimacy.”
     “There are two types of people being duped,” attorney Murphy said. “There are people who are investing dollars in $1,000 chunks and the money would go up and down a chain.”
     Many of them have joined a federal class action suit filed in Massachusetts. Pitt treated Kofman as his personal “piggy bank,” preying upon is naivete in business, his age and wealth, Murphy said.
     “They took everything he has,” she said. “He is working a night shift job. He’s lived frugally his whole life, living in a one-bedroom apartment and now he is worried he is going to lose that.”
     Kofman seeks punitive damages for elder abuse, fraud and breach of contract.
     Lucrazon did not respond to a phone call seeking comment.

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