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Ex-UGA student to serve 5 years for Ponzi scheme from frat house

By Alexis Stevens, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution #atlanta-ga

Atlanta man, 23, also ordered to pay more than $500K in restitution

He once lived in a University of Georgia fraternity house. But for five years, a federal prison will be the new home for the former undergraduate student, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said Friday.

Syed Arham Arbab, 23, of Atlanta, conned more than 100 people into giving him approximately $1 million in a Ponzi scheme he organized, according to investigators. As part of his sentence, he must pay $509,032.12 in restitution to the victims, according to Charlie Peeler, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia.

“Arbab preyed on unexperienced investors, including his own fellow students, by weaving a despicable web of lies to steal from people who trusted him,” Peeler said in a news release. “Arbab lied about pursuing an MBA, lied about having the support of a famous UGA grad, lied about the amount of capital he raised and lied about what he was doing with investors’ money.”

Arbab pleaded guilty in October 2019 to one count of securities fraud. From May 2018 to May 2019, Arbab sought investors for Artis Proficio Capital Management and Artis Proficio Capital Investments, according to investigators.

But Arbab issued false account statements and misrepresented the size of the funds and returns. He also falsely claimed a former UGA athlete and NFL star was one of his investors, prosecutors said. Arbab allegedly told investors he guaranteed investments of up to $15,000. He had also been rejected from the MBA program at UGA’s Terry College of Business, according to prosecutors.

“Arbab is not some sloppy bookkeeper,” Peeler said. “He never had the capital to back up the phony returns he promised investors. Arbab took other people’s money and spent it on lavish trips to Las Vegas, expensive clothing, fine dining, adult entertainment and luxuries for himself. His criminal actions have landed him in prison.”

The Securities and Exchange Commission and the FBI assisted with the investigation into Arbab’s scheme.

“Arbab’s lies and deceit to profit personally from the hard-earned money of investors, many of them fellow students, were unconscionable,” Chris Hacker, special agent in charge of FBI Atlanta, said in an emailed statement. “The victims will never recover their losses. It is a stark reminder to investors to be extremely careful where they entrust their money and be skeptical of offers that sound too good to be true.”