Default judgments for defrauding investors out of at least $30 million have been entered against several Five Towns residents as well as other individuals and entities for securities fraud associated with Cardis Enterprises International.
Since 1998, according to the complaint, Cardis obtained tens of millions of dollars from investors through sales of stock, warrants, and convertible notes. Cardis offered and sold these securities to more than one hundred investors. Cardis was tightly controlled by Defendants Aaron Fischman, Stephen Brown, Lawrence Katz, Steven Hoffman, and Seth Rosenblatt, who worked together in a small office space in Cedarhurst.
In December 2018, the New York Attorney General’s Office filed suit against Cardis, Fischman, Brown, Hoffman, and Rosenblatt for the fraudulent marketing of Cardis to investors. The complaint alleged that while Cardis was raising significant investor funds, Fischman was diverting much of the proceeds to enrich himself, family members and his favored charities. Lawrence Katz — Cardis’ in-house attorney — aided in Fischman’s theft and diversion of investor funds from the company’s principal bank account, according to the complaint.
“Individuals who sell false promises and commit fraud will be held responsible for their misdeeds,” said Attorney General Letitia James. “We will continue to seek justice for small business proprietors who fall victim to the greed of those intent on breaking the law. ”
Cardis claimed to possess patented and proprietary technology that would aggregate low-value credit card transactions to reduce fees for merchants. Cardis claimed it was working with prominent companies, including Jay-Z’s entertainment company Roc Nation, and that an initial public offering or buyout of Cardis was on the horizon. In fact, many of Cardis’ purported partnerships did not advance beyond preliminary discussions. Cardis even failed to maintain basic books and records, making the notion of an IPO or buyout impossible.
Last week, Attorney General James secured default judgments against Cardis and a number of Cardis-related entities, including Choshen Israel LLC, a company controlled by Fischman and a number of Fischman’s relatives, including Nina Fischman, Rafaela Fischman, Alexander Fischman, Anne Shimanovich, and Ethel Weissman — all of whom profited from Fischman’s fraud.
Prior to filing the lawsuit, the New York Attorney General’s Office entered into an assurance of discontinuance with Cardis Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Nierenberg. Nierenberg stopped working for Cardis, except to wind down the company. As part of his settlement with the New York Attorney General’s Office, Nierenberg had to pay $100,000 and was barred from participating in the securities industry for five years.
The case remains ongoing with several motions pending, including a motion for leave to amend the complaint to re-plead claims against Brown (who was previously dismissed from the case) and the remaining defendants. Several civil claims were also filed against Cardis, its principals and entities.
Those with information about possible investment fraud are encouraged to submit a complaint online. For those who wish to report fraudulent conduct without compromising their identity, the Office of the New York Attorney General launched a secure whistleblowing system.