Attorney General James Stops Ponzi Schemer Targeting Harvard Business School Alumni

Harvard Business School Alum Vladimir Artamonov Tricked HBS Alumni into Investing in Ponzi Scheme, Cheating Investors out of at least $2.9 Million
AG James Urges Anyone Defrauded by Artamonov’s Scheme to File a Complaint

NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James has taken action to stop a fraudster who is tricking Harvard Business School (HBS) alumni and associates into investing in a fraudulent Ponzi scheme. Vladimir Artamonov, a HBS alumnus, solicited at least $2.9 million from at least 29 investors, many of whom he met through his connections to HBS. Today, Attorney General James secured a court order to stop Artamonov from harming investors through his fraudulent scheme and to stop him from withdrawing and transferring funds in his bank and brokerage accounts. This matter came to light when the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) was informed that one of Artamonov’s initial investors ended his own life after discovering that he lost $100,000 because of Artamonov’s fraud. Even after the tragedy, Artamonov continued to solicit new investors and lied to them regarding the fund’s strategy and performance. Any investors who may have suffered losses due to Vladimir Artamonov’s scheme are encouraged to contact OAG and file a complaint

“Even sophisticated investors can be conned by fraudsters, especially when personal relationships and networks are used to build a false sense of trust,” said Attorney General James. “Vladimir Artamonov used his alumnus status from Harvard Business School to prey on his classmates and others while seeming legitimate and dependable. Instead, he has been scamming people out of their investments, with horrific consequences. Today, we have put a stop to this scheme and encourage anyone who has been defrauded to come forward to my office.”

Artamonov attended HBS and graduated in 2003 with a Master’s in Business Administration. After graduating, Artamonov moved to New York and was once registered with New York as a securities professional, but not at the time he solicited money from the investors for his fund. From September 2021 through the present, Artamonov solicited money from the public for an investment fund that he called “Project Information Arbitrage” or the “Artamonov Fund.” Artamonov identified many of his investors through the HBS alumni network. Many of his investors did not have a close personal relationship with him and only knew him as an acquaintance.

The OAG alleged that Artamonov lured clients by claiming that he could learn which investments Berkshire Hathaway would make ahead of the market by examining public state insurance filings. Artamonov boasted to his investors that it is like “having a private time machine” and “getting tomorrow’s newspaper today,” and projected returns of 500-1,000 percent. In reality, Artamonov used his investors’ money to buy short-term options that expired within days of purchase and appeared to have no relation to Berkshire Hathaway or its investment activities. Artamonov lost millions of investors’ funds by investing in these short-term options, but did not disclose the loss to his investors. To cover up the losses, Artamonov told the investors that it had been a “quiet” month and to just wait and see.

Since 2021, Artamonov has secured at least $2.9 million from at least 29 individual investors and engaged in a Ponzi scheme by paying the existing investors with the new investors’ fund. For instance, in October of 2022, Artamonov received $100,000 from an investor, and lost virtually all of these funds within a few weeks on short-term options. But when the investor asked for an update, Artamonov told the investor that he had yet to invest and solicited an additional $50,000 from him. Artamonov also used new investors’ money to repay existing investors who asked for their money back, in effect engaging in a Ponzi scheme. Artamonov also used his investors’ money to fund unauthorized personal expenses for vacations, shopping, and dining. 

In the petition filed with the New York County State Supreme Court under Section 354 of the Martin Act, New York’s powerful securities law, Attorney General James asked the Court for a preliminary injunction restraining Artamonov from providing financial services, engaging in fraudulent conduct, and withdrawing and transferring funds from his bank accounts. Attorney General James also secured an order directing Artamonov to testify and produce books and records which are material and necessary to OAG’s ongoing investigations. 

This case is being handled by Assistant Attorneys General Geoffrey Andreu and Amanda Yoon with assistance from Senior Enforcement Counsel Roger Waldman, Principal Accountant Shalendra Ramadhin, and Legal Assistant Charmaine Blake — all of the Investor Protection Bureau — under the supervision of Bureau Chief Shamiso Maswoswe and Deputy Bureau Chief Kenneth Haim. The Investor Protection Bureau is a part of the Division for Economic Justice, which is overseen by Chief Deputy Attorney General Chris D’Angelo and First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy.