NEW YORK (Reuters) - A man who fled the country with millions of dollars allegedly bilked from investors through a foreign currency exchange investment scheme has been extradited from Poland to face fraud and money laundering charges in Brooklyn, authorities announced on Monday.
Aleksander Efrosman, 49, led international law enforcement officers on a years-long manhunt across several continents before he was finally found and arrested in Krakow, Poland, on May, 28, 2010.
He was returned to the United States on Friday evening and arraigned Saturday morning before U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew Carter in Brooklyn federal court, according to law enforcement officials in the U.S. Attorney's office.
According to the indictment, Efrosman, a U.S. citizen, solicited $5 million from more than 100 investors between 2004 and 2005, telling them he would invest the funds in the stock market and the foreign currency exchange (forex) market. Efrosman told investors he had a stellar track record and the investments were guaranteed not to lose more than 3 percent, the indictment says.
But instead of investing the funds, Efrosman used them for his personal benefit, including a trip to Foxwoods Casino where he spent more than $3 million, authorities said.
In 2005, prosecutors said he took millions of investors' dollars and fled the country, traveling to Mexico, Panama and then Poland under the assumed name of "Mikhail Grosman" and a fake Russian passport. At the time, he was still on supervised release following a 1998 conviction on charges of mail and wire fraud in connection with an earlier forex market fraud.
While on the lam in Panama, Efrosman attempted to set up a third investment fraud, using false identities and "sophisticated means of hiding assets" that complicated law enforcement officers' attempts to track him down, authorities said.
A warrant was issued in Manhattan for Efrosman's arrest in August 2005 for violating the terms of his release. In 2006, a federal grand jury in Brooklyn indicted him on new charges of mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering and authorities have been searching for him ever since.
If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison, authorities said.
"The defendant allegedly created a web of lies to fleece unsuspecting investors," U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District Loretta Lynch said in a statement. "He thought his lies and a false identity would allow him to evade the consequences of his actions. He was wrong."
An attorney for Efrosman, Michael Schneider, did not immediately return a call for comment.
Efrosman is slated to appear in court on Wednesday.
The case is U.S. v. Efrosman, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, no. 06-95.
For the U.S.: Assistant U.S. attorney Daniel Spector.
For Efrosman: Michael Schneider.
(Reporting by Jessica Dye; editing by Noeleen Walder and Andre Grenon)