Suffield Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Charges Stemming from Role in Stock “Pump and Dump” Scheme
Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that CHRISTIAN MEISSENN, also known as “Christian Nigohossian,” 44, of Suffield, waived his right to indictment and pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Jeffrey A. Meyer in New Haven to conspiracy and tax evasion charges stemming from his involvement in a securities fraud scheme.
According to court documents and statements made in court, between approximately 2009 and July 2016, MEISSENN and others conspired to defraud investors through a stock “pump and dump” scheme. MEISSENN and his co-conspirators induced investors to purchase securities by making false and misleading representations in calls, emails and press releases concerning the securities and the issuing companies, thereby causing the price of those securities to become falsely inflated. The issuing companies, most of which were essentially shell companies controlled by MEISSENN’s associates, included Terra Energy Resources Ltd. (stock symbol “TRRE”); Mammoth Energy Group, Inc. (stock symbol “MMTE”), a company that later became Strategic Asset Leasing Inc. (stock symbol “LEAS”); Trilliant Exploration Corporation (stock symbol “TTXP”); Electric Motors Corporation (stock symbol “EMCO”); Hermes Jets, Inc. (stock symbol “HRMJ”), which later became Continental Beverage Brands Corporation (stock symbol “CBBB”); and Fox Petroleum, Inc. (stock symbol “FXPT”). The conspirators then sold positions in those securities that were held by conspirators and their designees at the falsely inflated prices, thereby enriching the members of the conspiracy.
After selling their own shares at a profit, the conspirators allowed the price of the securities to fall, leaving investors with worthless and unsalable stock. As a result, victim investors lost millions of dollars.
Between 2011 and 2015, MEISSENN earned approximately $4.4 million through this scheme and diverted a large portion of the profits into the trust account of an attorney rather than a bank account in his own name. He then directed the attorney to withdraw cash for MEISSENN’s personal use, and to wire funds and issue checks for the benefit of MEISSENN and his family members. MEISSENN failed to report this income to the Internal Revenue Service during the 2011 through 2015 tax years, and failed to pay more than $1.5 million in federal income taxes.
MEISSENN pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, which carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years, and one count of tax evasion, which carries a maximum term of imprisonment of five years.
Judge Meyer scheduled sentencing for January 31, 2017. At sentencing, MEISSENN will be ordered to pay restitution to his victims, as well as back taxes, interest and penalties to the Internal Revenue Service.
This ongoing investigation is being conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division and U.S. Postal Inspection Service, with assistance from the Connecticut Department of Banking and the Hartford and Stamford Police Departments. The matter is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Avi M. Perry and Peter S. Jongbloed.
Citizens with information that may be helpful to this ongoing investigation, or who believe they may have been victimized by this scheme, are encouraged to contact the FBI at (203) 777-6311.