Maryland State police in Charles and Prince George's counties are looking for a man who allegedly sold bogus shares in a mining company to at least 10 people while posing as a stockbroker and heir to Giant Foods Inc.
The victims -- four from the Camp Springs area in Prince George's County -- invested a total of nearly $30,000 with the man, who said he was a million-dollar shareholder and licensed broker for Kendall Mining International Inc. (KMI), according Cpl. Donald W. Hollaway, a state police investigator.
Last week state police issued a nine-count theft warrant for a man using the name Jeffrey Marc Cohen, 27, whose last known address was in Glen Burnie, Md.
A man with the same name has been charged with passing bad checks in College Park and Waldorf in recent months and was arrested in connection with at least one other scam involving bogus stock -- this one in Maine -- according to state police investigator Vernon Herronn.
The victims were told KMI was a "very lucrative investment," a company that dealt in gold, silver and other precious metals as well as oil, he said. Police would not identify the victims, but Herronn said the initial contact was made with a Waldorf man while Cohen was incarcerated at the Charles County Detention Center in April.
At one meeting of potential investors on May 18, a man named Cohen circulated outdated brochures describing KMI's operations before offering his "clients" an opportunity to buy unlimited shares at eight to 16 cents a share.
So far, police have the names of 10 victims, including a married couple, who paid sums ranging from $500 to $7,050 for bogus stock.
Victims from Alexandria, the District, Clinton and Forestville came forward last week after it became apparent that they were not going to get their stock certificates.
One victim told police he saw Cohen about four weeks ago and was told all the money had been used to bail out a failing car dealership that Cohen owned. The man said Cohen told him the crisis was over and a corporate attorney would soon issue stock certificates.
Israel Cohen, one of the two partners in the Giant Corp., said yesterday, "This man is not affiliated with Giant Foods in any way . . . As far as I know, I only have one son and he's in Florida doing well in the automobile business."
A Securities and Exchange Commission spokesman said Jeffrey M. Cohen is not a registered stockbroker. Papers filed with the SEC in 1983 indicate a company named KMI did deal in precious metals.
KMI's last filing, in April 1984, was a financial statement indicating that it had entered into a transaction with a company called Unicorp Financial Corp., said SEC senior attorney Howard Bluver. A reporter attempting to contact KMI officials at the Fort Worth headquarters listed on that document found the number disconnected.