In September, the Minnesota Commerce Fraud Bureau got a call from a woman who’d invested $155,000 with someone named Semin Topalovic.
He’d told her he was an investor, that he ran a firm called GoldView Capital Management. He sent her several YouTube links introducing himself, and claimed he once turned $6,000 into six figures in two years flat.
He’d given her a neat stack of documents -- though he didn't give her much time to examine them carefully. The next thing she knew, he was asking her to take out more than $150,000 in loans and invest it with him.
The profit would be more than enough to pay them off, he said. The woman, not exactly a sophisticated investor, wired the money to an account under the name of Mannheim Associates in Burnsville.
Topalovic’s first payment had been due Sept. 1. Nearly a month later, it had yet to arrive. The woman was getting nervous. She told state agents that something seemed fishy.
According to a complaint filed with Dakota County District Court, the agents knew something was indeed fishy the minute they heard Topalovic’s name. The 26-year-old was not a registered financial advisor. He also had $100,000 in outstanding judgments against him, and was prohibited from soliciting investors through GoldView. In actuality, he was unemployed, traveling around the country to Texas Hold ‘Em tournaments.
The agents examined Mannheim’s bank records, which were in the name of Topalovic’s sister, Armela. She was not a registered financial advisor either.
The unfortunate investor’s money landed with the Topalovics in August. Soon, $73,000 in withdrawals piled up. About $28,000 went to Uber, hotels, casinos, and dining. Another $14,500 went to Armela Topalovic’s personal account, and $30,000 flew away as wire transfers to other people.
At the end of the month, the balance was a little over $1,200.
The agents busted into Topalovic’s Burnsville business and found plenty of documents related to the scheme -- plus information on other unfortunate investors who’d been duped the same way.
He’s been charged with felony theft by swindle and securities fraud, and he could face 25 years in prison.
Without seeing the YouTube videos of Topalovic outlining his claims, it’s impossible to know how convincing he was. But if his poker career is anything to go by -- something like $43,600 in winnings in the past three years -- he probably has a good bluff.