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Two Bogus ‘Guggenheims’ Arrested

MANHATTAN (CN) - Federal prosecutors say three people pretended to be members of the Guggenheim family to trick investors into investing in bogus crude oil, gold, and diamond businesses. David Birnbaum and Vladimir Zuravel were arrested Monday. Catarina Pietra Toumei is still at large. All are charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

Toumei used the alias Lady Catarina Pietra Toumei; Birnbaum called himself David B. Guggenheim, and Zuravel claimed to be Vladimir Z. Guggenheim, according to the complaint.

The trio claims to have $1 billion worth of diamonds from "the private collection of the Guggenheim family," a $4 billion dollar crude oil deal with China, and a project to sell vodka through the Coca-Cola company.

Guggenheim Capital LLC, a holding company for the real Guggenheim family, filed a civil complaint against the trio in November.

Birnbaum and Zuravel were arrested Monday.

Toumei, who lives in California, is still at large.

If convicted, they each face up to 20 years in prison.

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