Despite repeated warnings from the SEC and others, investors continue to be lured into investments that turn out nothing more than scams. Many of the cases are based on schemes which are far too good to be true, offering huge returns or guarantees against loss. In others it is the lure of something glamorous such as investments in Broadway show tickets that are difficult to impossible to obtain. In still others the product may have been “as seen on TV,” a claim which can turn many investors into easy marks for the unscrupulous.
The lure of investing in a product seen on the CNBC show “Shark Tank” was the hook that brought investors to the owner of a wine store operating in Bethpage and Farmingdale, New York. Shark Tank featured a product developed by the owner of the two stores, a sealed single serving glass of wine. The glass of wine was a feature on “Shark Tank,” a program that features new products for which would-be entrepreneurs are seeking additional financing from a panel of celebrity investors or Sharks.
Joseph Falcone is the owner of 3G’S VINO LLC. He developed the sealed glass holding a single serving of wine. The product was sold at his stores. His creation was featured on the national television show “Shark Tank.”
Potential investors were solicited for about a year beginning in September 2014. They were told about the single glass of wine product featured on TV. Investors were also told their money would be put into developing the business. With national TV publicity the investment was in a whole different class from the typical “to-good-to-be-true” scheme. It was a sure thing. The investor funds came in. Those same funds also went out, but not to 3G’S VINO as promised. Rather, over half a million dollars in investor money went to acquire a home in Florida and fund online securities trading by the wine store owner.
Mr. Falcone pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud on June 10, 2019. The date for sentencing has not been announced. U.S. v. Falcone, No. 19-cr-257 (E.D.N.Y.).
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