An “expert conman” who told investors a Goldman Sachs Group connection could get them in on Alibaba Group Holding’s 2014 initial public offering was ordered to spend nearly 16 years in prison.
Frank Harold Rosenthal was sentenced Thursday to 188 months in prison by US District Judge Fernando L. Aenlle-Rocha in Los Angeles. That was substantially more than the roughly 10 years sought by prosecutors and several times the 21-month sentence suggested by Rosenthal himself. Rosenthal was also ordered to pay more than $1.1 million in restitution.
Rosenthal, 48, pleaded guilty in June to collecting some $4 million from investors based on false claims that he had a source at Goldman who could get them pre-IPO shares in Alibaba. The Chinese ecommerce giant’s $22 billion New York Stock Exchange debut, for which Goldman was lead underwriter, was the largest ever at the time and highly anticipated for months before.
To help sell his claim, Rosenthal created a fake email account for a made-up Goldman employee named “Martin Graham.” Rosenthal used emails from Graham to show his victims how lucky they were that he invited them into his unique investment opportunity, prosecutors said in their Oct. 26 sentencing recommendation. Victims were told to expect “monumental returns.”
Rosenthal “enhanced the attractiveness of his scheme by making up friends in high places, complete with fake emails, to create the further appearance of exclusivity and success,” prosecutors said.
But he had no Goldman connection nor access to any Alibaba IPO shares. Instead, Rosenthal used the money for his own benefit, renting a house in Malibu for $16,000 a month.
One victim, a retired businessman and full-time carer for his wife, invested with Rosenthal to avoid personal bankruptcy, prosecutors said. On top of the money he invested in the Alibaba IPO scam, the victim also gave Rosenthal more than $1.2 million for a cannabis dispensary venture. Altogether, the victim lost $2.8 million to Rosenthal.
“Frankie proved to be a clearly dangerous psychopath, totally amoral but very cunningly persuasive,” the victim wrote in a statement filed with the court. Another victim called Rosenthal a “serial liar” and “expert conman.”