New York – Executives Accused in Alleged Stock Fraud Scheme

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    Spongetech's chief executive and president, and Steven MoskowitzNew York – The top executives of Spongetech Delivery Systems Inc. were arrested and charged Wednesday in an alleged scheme to defraud investors by reporting falsely and grossly overstated sales figures.

    According to a criminal complaint filed Wednesday, Michael Metter, Spongetech’s chief executive and president, and Steven Moskowitz, the cleaning-products maker’s chief operating officer and chief financial officer, were charged with conspiracy to commit securities fraud and obstruction of justice. They each face up to five years in prison on the conspiracy charge.

    Metter, 58 years old, of Greenwich, Conn., and Moskowitz, 45, of Flushing, N.Y., are expected to appear before a U.S. magistrate judge in federal court in Brooklyn later Wednesday.

    “The defendants in this case–Spongetech’s highest corporate officers–are charged with executing a bold scheme to portray Spongetech as a company that was performing at a level far above reality,” U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said in a statement. “As detailed in the complaint, the audacity of their scheme was matched only by their obstructive efforts during the course of the SEC’s investigation.”

    The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission also has filed civil charges in the matter, Lynch said.

    In the complaint, prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s office in Brooklyn alleged Metter and Moskowitz between January 2007 and May 2010 publicly reported the company had secured purchase orders or made sales to five customers that did not exist.

    For the nine months ended Feb. 28, 2009, the purported sales to those five customers accounted for as much as 99% of Spongetech’s revenue, prosecutors said.

    During that time frame, the men allegedly filed multiple false reports with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and issued numerous press releases touting the false sales figures, typically via the Internet, prosecutors said in the complaint.

    Since the SEC issued subpoenas in September as part of a formal probe of Spongetech, Metter and Moskowitz allegedly have tried to fabricate the existence of the five purported customers, according to the complaint.

    They allegedly sought to create Web sites and virtual offices for the companies, have furnished investigators with phony purchase orders and produced “questionable documentation” purportedly constituting proof of payments by the customers, prosecutors said in the complaint.

    The SEC suspended trading of the company’s stock Oct. 5, according to the complaint. The suspension expired Oct. 16, and Spongetech has been trading only in the “grey market,” a market for securities not listed on any stock exchange, the Over-the-Counter Bulletin Board or the pink sheets, according to the complaint.

    A phone call to Spongetech wasn’t immediately returned Wednesday.

    An automated message on the company’s investor relations phone line said the company would make no comment during the SEC investigation and would only make public comments via press releases.

    A complaint is merely a charge and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

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    110 COMMENTS

      • Enough with SMR comparisons already. ENOUGH! It is getting sick. He is not anyone’s hero just an embarrassment to all of us at this point.

      • Azoy…just the weekly episode of government lawyers deliberately seeking to entrap jewish business and community leaders to violate the law so they can be put in jail….next, they will come after all the heimeshe groceries and mkivahs

        • Not sure about the mikvahs but the gov’t could have a field day with the grocery stores for sure. Do you think there is ONE store that a) reports all of its income b) doesn’t have illegal aliens working there c) pays all of its employees on the books d) is clean enough to pass health dept inspections and e) is in compliance with all pricing, product dating and other consumer protection laws?
          That doesn’t mean goyisher grocery stores are any better, but if a yiddisher one gets caught and they go after the owner for these crimes, everyone will be out there screaming anti-semitism!
          If you get stopped for speeding, it is NOT a defense to claim you were only going as fast as everyone else was. The fact that the others didn’t get stopped doesn’t make it any better for you. The same is true here. If the guy broke the law (and I don’t know enough about this matter to comment one way or the other), complaining that the gov’t is only going after Jews is NOT a valid defense.

        • what the heck does this have to do with coming after jews??? The gov. is going after crooked corporations especially those that are publicly traded. In this case, these ganavim just happen to be jewish. Now you can crawl back into your hole.

        • It’s amazing to me how so many frum people with so much money have it tied up somewhere. (invested) . It’s no wonder the yeshivas cant pay the rebeim, teachers, staff, etc. and many families need food and help with bills. Sorry, I dont feel too bad for these losers.

      • Congratulations, you continue to miss the point. How about: “The Jews are getting more and more crooked. When will these egregious sins stop?”

        Emes, yashrus, and honest dealings between man and his fellow are the foundation of our religion. People who conduct themselves in such a crooked fashion go against the very essence of what it means to be a Jew.

      • It’s not the government that is anti-semitic at all, it’s the growing corruption within our community! There are more and more arrests of religious Jews because there are more and more crimes being committed!
        My brother once asked why it is that there is so much theft within the orthodox community and I told him that some people will tell you that it’s blown out of proportion because it makes the headlines, but after doing research you will see that there are more than 3.5 times as many orthodox Jews in US prisons than non religious Jews, adjusted for population. I said that the reason is a combination of lack of respect for non-Jews and non religious Jews, which causes a lack of respect for secular law, as well as the learning culture which focuses not on law, but on logical patterns which turn the impossible into the probable and the probable into the likely.
        We sit and learn Gemara instead of Shulchan Aruch, not to come to the law, but to sharpen our skills of reason, but which often results in fallacious syllogisms that enable us to allow that which is forbidden.
        This is why there is a tfillah before entering the Beis Medrash that our learning should come to the true laws!

        • My theory of why there are so many frum Yidden who are crooks is due to the high cost of being frum. From the fancy weddings and bar-mitzvahs, to the high cost of tuition, the high cost of housing living in a frum neighborhood, to the expensive kosher foods, it’s simply not possible for the average Yid who is not a doctor or a fancy lawyer to make it. Hence the endless scams we see to try to make a dishonest dollar to keep up with the Cohens or Tawils.

          • That is only half the picture. if we are really being honest, it is a lack of education that also causes so many to turn to illegal means of making money. If you have a 6th grade education, you’re not going to be a lawyer or an accountant. You’re probably going to be a minimum-wage earner. Since so many CHOOSE a life of ignorance and no education, they set themselves up for a life of swindling to get by.

            The Rambam was clear on this and it certainly holds true today.

            • WRONG!
              I entered BTA in 1967 and heard my Rabbi A.C. say that Chasidim have to be dishonest because they had no education and no parnasa.
              Skip forward to 2010. Many frum people have parnasa from owning, developing or managing real estate and similar fields. I have also heard of an electronics firm called Band H that is said to be reputable. So this non chasid disagrees with you.

            • Sure… many frum people DO have parnasa from such things. However, SOMEBODY had to educate them in business to do that. I can also say that many people who want to be country music singers make it to the Grand Ol’ Opry. But I would be very dishonest if I didn’t point out that 99.9% of those that TRY to be successful country music singers actually fail.

              I know successful business people who didn’t get a formal education. However, they went to work in industries where they were able to LEARN the business. They started out swinging a hammer for a contractor, then became local handymen, then became contractors in their own right and made a nice living. But they only got there because they put SERIOUS work into it and were willing to work for pennies in order to learn.

              I’m sorry to tell you, but there is TRULY no such thing as a free lunch. Either you pay to educated in SOMETHING, or you WORK at the bottom to get educated in SOMETHING. There is no other way if you want to live an honest lifestyle that does not involve BEGGING or living off the hard work of your neighbors!

            • Sorry, but this is a very poor defense of the disgusting attack you quoted from your high school teacher.

              Nothing you wrote defends the claim that chassidim steal or that they (according to your allegation) do so because of a lack of education.

              The majority of them earn an honest income exactly as you describe – by getting on the job experience in the field the choose and then move up to managerial or ownership positions.

              Your anti-chassidish bias is blatant, repulsive, disgusting and a sad testimony to the sinas chinam you were taught in high school.

      • Be quiet!!!!!!!! maybe its because more and more jews are being exposed for committing fraud! They need to be treated like everyone else they dont deserve to get away with things just because they are jewish and you can cry anti-semitism! its time to own up and face the consequences for your actions! your response to this is immature and shows how closed minded you are!

    1. What will it take to make these ehrlich yidden realize they cannot continue to act like Madoff, SMR, Dwek, the Spinka rav, the NJ rabbonim or any of the others who have been found guilty of–or alleged to have–committed felonies, tax evasion and other crimes. Maybe it will be a few more threats of life sentences to get the message across that yiddin are not exempt from secular law.

      • Or Torah law. Plenty of Torah law dinei mamonos violations here too (in addition to chillul hashem, dina d’malchusa, etc.), if the charges are accurate

      • When Madoff once came to Lakewood, he was said[rumoured] to have lectured against those oin kollel, who don’t work & take programs, he then spoke about how one should be moral honest & ethical in their job & business.
        Kabooooom.
        Your post reminds me of his lecture. All those who find fault in others normally have the very fault themselves.
        I work & pay taxes & am very honest, I understand I was brought up like that. Many of us have parents who lived through decrees & pogroms, & were not allowed to have money for food legally, so to survive they had to use different ethics which were somewhat passed on. I won’t condem these people, not being them, but history has shown those who condem, are usually just as guilty if not more.
        please take your books to the IRs snitch on yourself & your ilegal Polishe shiksa, the come back & speak about others.

        • Sorry to hear. Where did you get so much money to invest? For all those that never leave brooklyn and that do not know KGH is Kew Gardens Hills (Flushing).

          • Not all Yidden who live in Brooklyn have the ghetto mentality. Brooklyn Yidden would be shocked to know that there are other sections of Brooklyn besides Williamsburg, Boro Park, and Flatbush where Yidden live.

      • MY husband unfortunately is one of them. Whayever it is that happened the entire oylam should know that Steve only hired heimishe family men with children, and did so many chassadim. He is a man with a big heart and a wonderful family. Lets all Daven for them.

        • If you really believe what you say, than we should be davening for you. How can you say c’v, we should ask the ebeshter to help this dreche yid who creates such a chilul hashem and has caused so much pain and suffering for the heimehse community. The fact that he hired some yiddin to assist him in his ganavah makes it only worse.

          • get it straight!!! they came begging and crying for a job. so he hired them and paid them . he did not put any money away for himself !!!

            • You mean the whole pump and dump, the phony orders, phony accounts, phony offices, fake opinion letters, all the bubbe maisehs was all for tzedaka?

            • u were in the office to see all the phony accounts,the phony orders, phony offices, fake opinion letters??? u also seem to say phony things without knowing for sure?dont judge others first look at urself . u are soo busy with the loshen harah!!!

            • You don’t have to be in their office to know these are lies – read the SEC filings that they signed. Then go find the companies – they don’t exist. And if they did exist can you explain where these people are that they claimed were buying from them? Wouldn’t now be a good time for these “buyers” to pop up and say hi? After all, supposedly all they did was buy sponges. So where are they?

              Loshon harah is always abused by people like you to hide the truth. Once you pull that card, you’ve lost. Another frum yid caught red handed and you want to hide behind the loshon harah nonsense? Geneiva is in the Top 10, so when he worries about that, I’ll start thinking that maybe efsher its something to think about. Can you spell PLEA BARGAIN?

        • I live in KGH too and I know many of the people who worked there, and, as far as I know, they are decent, hardworking and honest people. However, if the allegations are true, then Steve is a thief, pure and simple. Doing chassadim with money you’ve stolen is a contradiction in terms. He belongs in prison.

      • it’s deff. true. had the opportunity to invest with him a year ago, and realized he was up to no good.
        this has nothing to do with anti semitism, these guys were crooks and they stole a lot of money, jewish and non jewish. if any thing, they are the anti semites!!!

    2. It is amazing that judaism and ‘kosher’ is defined by what people wear on the outside, but they can steal, lie, cheat, abuse, etc and still be considered a ‘religious’ person. It does not just trickle down but pours down from the top to the bottom. When you have 33 concert ban ‘rabbis’ who spew forth lies, and people see that being a ‘jew’ is a joke, than there is no hope. It is time to rip out the cancer starting from the top. It is time to oust these ‘rabbis and ‘jews’ from their positions. They are the real ones who are not just at risk.. they are the risk. Stop being blind and being led by the Blind!

        • he did not recruit them they begged him to hire them till they were all out or jobs for a year or more. why did you not give them a job . he tried to help the best he could .

    3. As long as rabanim don’t lose money with these pigs nothing will change. Some of these people deserve this anyway. When people start believeing in g-d which is a better investment then humans maybe this will stop. People who give million of dollars to some human being who promises more than a bank and a stock market are just plain stupid and we should not feel bad for these fools.

    4. Moskowitz is a “frum” (or as frum as a person can be when committing such crimes) guy who was kind enough to hire many other frum guys, particularly 28+ year old guys who live in Kew Gardens Hills. Now his fortune is gone, he’s ruined the parnasa of countless investors and employees, caused another horrible chilul hashem and sullied the reputation of the Jewish people again. Everyone knew the shoe would drop eventually but the sheer chutzpah with which they operated is appalling. It was pretty obvious to the casual observer that things weren’t being run k’das uk’din there and that’s how the stock skyrocketed…and then plummeted within a month last June. Good for those who cashed in before the stock crashed but not so good for the lives these twisted individuals have ruined. They should get the full five year jail sentence for this one.

    5. SPNG is a zero. If anyone was sophisticated enough to read their financial reports there were related party transactions and many problems with cash flows adn receivable. Their 10k was one big red flag. This was a simple pump and dump. The problem for Moskowitz is that this became a very large pump and dump with all the advertising at sports stadiums. This guy gave out tickets to his suites at Citi Field so everyone thought he was some sort of genius. He was far from it. Do you know how many sponges you have to sell if you spend $400,000 a year advertising at each sports stadium. Most penny stocks are losers, and most mikva stocks are losers. Be very careful, and trust noone. Alot of money is lost because some rich guy owns the stock and people dont look into what the company is worth. I even warned people about this company and they buy the stock anyway. Really a shame when there are so many Tzedakas that need the community money, and so much gets wasted on garbage like Spongetech. There are also a good 15 or so guys who need a job right now, if anyone has any sales or other openings, should find away to contact those employees.

      • There are also a good 15 or so guys who need a job right now, if anyone has any sales or other openings, should find away to contact those employees.”

        B”H ,It’s not 15 yet but I’m sure it will be more . If anyone has any leads for open jobs chaiadam@msn.com.
        But everyone should continue to say tehillim for all in need of parnussah and especially for Yehuda ben Nachman Yonah.

    6. Everyone is a genius. If it was so obvious, why did it take so long to build a case. Let the man have his day in court. He has a family and your piling on him serves no purpose. The real tragedy is for the investors and employees who will suffer even if he is proven not guilty.

      • all u people complaining about ur investment no one force u to invest. u know the risk u take spgtech did not beg the people to come work for him . they came and begged him. they had no job for one year or more . so at lest they were able to get paid for a few years. if one does not know what went on dont talk!!

    7. @efsher1
      why would you even try and speculate? with a management that has and continues to disrespect its shareholders and employee’s, very shaky fundamentals, a product that seems to be filling an entirely non-existent gap in the market and the fact that there will be class action lawsuits coming like a Tennessee flood, you will be setting yourself up for one big disappointment!!

    8. Actually, I bought at a low – got a phonecall from someone to get ready to bail – met him in the mikva when he told me – do it now – do it today – do it even if you have to break Shabbos (I didn’t) and I left to home called my broker (who tried to convince me to stay in, as they do because they are always thinking only about themselves) and I made $394,000 after tax. I am willing to give $94,000 to help those few families mentioned who are now out of jobs. Can someone contact me with a way I can obtain their details please!

      • I just want you to know that my husband is one of those employed by Spongetech and as you can guess it has been very stressful. What you wrote that you are willing to help put a boost in my day just to know someone would be willing to do such a thing. With more decent people like you less people would be suffering. I believe for us things will work out and I”yh my husband who is a very decent hard working frum yid will find another job and things will work out for the better. I will daven for the same for all of his co-workers many of whom I know personally and are all good, honest hard working family men and community supporters. Good can still come out of this that a lesson can be learned and other companies not on the up and up can change their ways. Every action has a major trickle down effect and can harm many. Thank you for this post that should remind all that there are many many many honest decent trustworthy people out there. Thank you.

        • u write as if ur husband was forced to work there. u enjoyed the money very nicely if u found it stressfull ur huband could have left. !

          • First off my husband didnt make all that much money. 2nd he did not beg for the job and was not even unemployed. 3rd my comment was to a decent individual of which you obviously are not. 4th i did not ask him nor give info to contact us for a piece of his pot. 5th most of the people who work there deserved a paycheck for work they did like in any other job. 6th as a community this hit everyone hard as it is hard to find work and support kids and pay yeshiva tuitions 7th i nor my husband have bad mouthed anyone 8th you make it sound like they hired people just for show handing out free money with that was the case then the whole company would have been a hoax which we do not think is the case 9th if you are even a good yid which i doubt you would know that your jealousy is against the very commandments that good, honest decent hardworking jews follow so it is clear to me as well as everyone else posting on this sight that as sad as it is you are nothing more thana bombastic hot aired jealous individual and hashem is aware of just that. so before you make your posts you should think long and hard about what a good person is, as it is not to late for you to become one.

    9. Considering that Spongetech has huge liabilities from lawsuits, including class action, and perhaps 25 sports teams, not to mention that all they do is sell sponges, and not that many of them, the chances are extremely thin that this ever trades above a penny. But since stocks are supply and demand, hard to say 100%, but obviously the company is worthless.

    10. It’s pure loshon hara to say that many people in KGH are sketchy and definitely not true. Maybe a couple but to say loshon hara about a whole community is a tremendous aveirah.

    11. Mr. Moskowitz is one of the most big hearted and generous people I know. I think we should wait and see what happens with the investigation before we are quick to judge. Is everyone perfect out there- how many people work for cash jobs and dont report their income to the IRS? some of the finest people do this and dont see anything wrong with it. I remember once I wanted to hire a kollel wife to work with my daughter on reading and she would only do it if i paid her cash on the side. It really disturbed me. We are all guilty of something when you take out a magnifying glass. Let’s pray for the best

      • What a ridiculous point! Sure, many people are not perfect, but it’s quite another thing to set out actively to defraud thousands of people — or to build a criminal enterprise from the ground up. And anyone can be bighearted and generous with money they stole from other people. Is that something to be proud of? Did he become a big macher with your money!?

    12. Does anyone realize that there was another person arrested as well?! Did anyone look into Michael Metter’s past history of Securities issues? Could it be that he was the one who was behind the alleged scheme? No question to me that Metter is behind the whole thing.

      • My husband works for Vanity and is close with all the Spongetech guys. They will tell you that Steve had them do things that at the time they didn’t realize were illegal but now after the fact all comes together. He lies straight to our faces constantly. Furthermore he had another company a few years ago in which several frum families lost their pants. He left a friend of his with several bounced pay checks and no health insurance.

    13. As someone who is personally affected by this situation and as someone who once respected Mr. Moskowitz tremendously it is my obligation to let all of klal Yisrael know that this man has a diagnosable illness. All of us trusted and believed in him. He lied to us again and again. For the last several weeks noone knew what to believe. Everyone in the office has large families. The rug has been swept from under all the Heimishe Spongetech and Vanity Events (his other company that is going down now too) Mr. Moskowitz has a lovely family. I dont know how they will be able to face anyone in the street. At first I felt bad for him, but after the stress that has now effected my family all of the rachmanus I felt is gone.
      A tremendous number of families in our community will suddenly be faced with devastation. I”m talking about nice, fine, erlicher families. If anyone out there is hiring, please post.

      • You people are all blaming someone who has done nothing but help people years before Spongetech, he has given his time and has done plenty of chessed for Yeshivos, shuls, and personal people in KGH. Unfortunately it appears he made the mistake of doing business with Michael Metter who looks to be the one behind the scheme. I heard the other business will be ok.

    14. Does anyone know what Mrs. Moskowitz has to say about all this. She is sitting pretty on the 100 million+ that he’s been stashing in the bank on all his trips to Switzerland. She wont have any problems buying her family food for Shabbos. If she had a heart she would make her husband take care of all the families he just destroyed.

      • Obviously you don’t know Mrs. Moskowitz and you don’t know Mr. Moskowitz. The sinas chinun you and other jealous yidin display in some of these comments are the cause that we will not be zocha for the coming of Moshiach.
        I am one of the workers that will probably lose his job. I read how you lost money with SPNG; no one put a gun to your head and told you, you must invest in SPNG. You heard information from wherever and you made the decision to invest. It was you decision and yours only, so if you want to be angry at someone, be angry at yourself. Mr. & Mrs. Moskowitz have not lived extravagantly, they have preformed lots of chesed for the community and mosdos all over the world. They have given a lot of families Parnosa until now and if it would up to him, he would continue. Unfortunately at this time it is not up to him.
        I beg of you posters to please stop all the loshon hora and daven for Mr. & Mrs. Moskowitz and kallal yisroel , for hashem to give them the koach to pull thru this t’zora and continue to do good for kallal.
        P.S. I don’t want you to think that I don’t know what it feels like losing money in the stock. I also lost money and blame no one else but myself.

        • So you are saying that we should Daven that Mr. Moskowitz should get off so that he could continue to steal money so that he could continue to give Tzedaka? What Yeshiva taght you that its ok to be dishonest in order to give tzedaka?

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