Business law

The “Wall Street Kid” is accused of running a financial scam out of Los Angeles bars and luxury apartments

David Blum – A A notorious twice convicted con man On charges of defrauding dozens of wealthy New Yorkers out of millions — he was arrested and charged with conning at least a dozen Angelenos out of tens of thousands of dollars after promising to make them rich by selling shares he didn’t own to them, authorities said.

Court records show Bloom, 59, was charged with nine counts of grand theft and nine counts of fraud while selling securities. He was taken into custody by LAPD around 4 a.m. Monday and is being held at the 77th Street Jail on $500,000 bail, according to prison records.

Police allege Bloom told neighbors and new friends he made at local bars and restaurants that he could put them on the ground floor of trendy stocks not yet taken public, including Coinbase and Soho House. But Bloom’s accusers, some of whom have invested more than $10,000 with him, said they never saw a profit. The more they asked him about the stock’s performance, the scarcer it became.

The alleged Los Angeles scam mirrors the one that made Bloom semi-famous in the first place.

Bloom grew up on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, and grew accustomed to wealth. In his early twenties, he bought $1 million worth of paintings, a Manhattan condo, a Long Island beach house and an Aston Martin, James Bond’s favorite car, court records show, financing the lifestyle with cash from clients of the Greater Sutton Investors Group. .

Approximately 140 people, including Bloom’s grandmother, have invested more than $15 million with him. Despite convincing signs that his firm’s clients included Bill Cosby and members of the Rockefeller family, Bloom was not a financial advisor, and did not invest in anything but his own conveniences. According to published reports.

Read more: Column 1: How a twice-convicted con artist went from defrauding the toasts of Manhattan to becoming an LA bar patron

Eventually, federal prosecutors were caught, and New York tabloids dubbed Bloom the “Whiz Kid of Wall Street” after he pleaded guilty to mail and stock fraud in 1988. He was sentenced to eight years in federal prison and barred from participating in Money bills. industry for life.

He pleaded guilty to running a similar scam, for much less money, on restaurant employees and bartenders in Midtown Manhattan in the late 1990s. He pleaded guilty to theft and business code violations in 2000, according to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. Court records show that prosecutors alleged that they cheated 10 people out of at least $50,000. He spent nearly five years in prison.

Last year, The Times He dated a series of insults that Bloom was accused of running for In Los Angeles far from the Hamptons and wealthy Manhattan social circles he once stalked, Bloom was largely on the lookout for targets at the historic Franklin Village apartment complex and the Frolic Room bar along the Hollywood Walk of Fame, according to police and accusers.

His accusers said Bloom again claimed to have connections to power, and allegedly lured people in by promising to act as a conduit for their dreams. One Frolic Room user said he scrambled to finish the script after Bloom offered to pass it on to Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos. At least a dozen bargoers said they believed Bloom could get them tickets to Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium, only for Bloom to disappear hours before kickoff, claiming that his sister had died in a car accident. She didn’t.

The Times made several attempts to contact Bloom, all of which were unsuccessful. It was not clear if he had appointed a defense attorney, and the attorney general’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday.

For Caroline D’Amore, the hook was set when Bloom said he could connect her with A.C. Gallo, CEO of Whole Foods.

The 39-year-old reality TV star and actress found success with her company, Pizza Girl, which makes organic pasta sauces sold in high-end supermarkets. But when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, getting the right ingredients became almost impossible, she says. After the divorce, Damour moved to Villa Carlotta, where she met Bloom near the swimming pool on the first floor of the historic complex.

Other defendants described the compound as Bloom’s primary hunting ground, where he would approach people armed with information about their aspirations.

“He knew the right things to say when he first approached me,” said D’Amore, who appeared in Gordon Ramsay’s “The Hills: New Beginnings” spin-off “Food Stars.” He had already bought some ketchup from the grocery store next door, and he had just confided to me at some point about his ex-wife and how sad he was.

Bloom also said that the two had a mutual friend – Ron Burkle, owner of Soho House, the members-only global social club. Unbeknownst to D’Amore, Bloom has been telling the other Villa Carlotta residents that he can help them buy shares in Soho House before it goes public.

Damour actually knew Burkle through a mutual friend, but said it never occurred to her to call him and check on Bloom’s story.

“I never thought someone would make that up,” she said. “I just thought it was some random person to drop his name.”

Weeks later, Bloom told Damore that Gallo wanted to talk to her about selling Pizza Girl sauces at Whole Foods outlets around the country. At Bloom’s apartment, D’Amore said, someone claiming to be Gallo got on the phone and excitedly talked about Pizza Girl.

“He knew everything about my history, my upbringing in restaurants. He was so excited about my company and I was so high.”

The man who said he was Gallo promised to invest $2 million in Pizza Girl and scheduled a meeting in Austin, Texas, at the national headquarters of Whole Foods. But Bloom warned that the investment would take time, and he offered her an investment opportunity to keep her afloat until the windfall paid off. She was offered to live on the “ground floor” of the Soho House IPO, she said.

Thinking of the moment she decided to write Bloom a check, Damour’s face wrinkled with anger. Bloom attended her daughter’s birthday party. Damour said he loved her, compared her to his “little sister,” and knew she had just gone through an expensive divorce.

“He knew I wasn’t rich, and that was really upsetting,” she said.

With the help of some friends, D’Amore paid Bloom $35,000 for shares of Soho House. He promised that the investment would bring a net return of more than $850,000, she said.

Then, D’Amour set off for her dream business meeting in Austin, and it all fell apart. Gallo never met, and Bloom kept canceling trips to join her in Texas, offering an ever-changing series of alibis.

It took five days until Bloom said he was going to Texas, according to D’Amore. Then she received a phone call from one of her fellow residents at Villa Carlotta, who mentioned that Bloom was in his favorite area by the pool, hosting a barbecue.

Eventually, Damour types “David Blum, crook” into her phone, and finds news articles about the crimes of the “Whiz Kid of Wall Street”.

Upon her return to Los Angeles, she contacts the other Villa Carlotta residents who have invested with Bloom and begins to fear that they too will be conned.

She said, “Everyone thought it was a special deal for them. He really makes you feel like his best friend.”

Weeks later, Damore drove at least four other people who had invested with Bloom to his doorstep. She said he denied any wrongdoing but promised to return their investment if they were unhappy.

Bloom moved out of Villa Carlotta a month later. LAPD Capt. Al Lopez, who leads the department investigating Bloom, said some victims have received partial refunds from Bloom, but investigators and victims suspect he simply paid them with money stolen from others.

Bloom was initially arrested last August on suspicion of grand theft. But the case has been under review in the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office for nearly a year.

A frustrated D’Amour held a small protest in downtown Los Angeles earlier this year to demand that Bloom be prosecuted. Asked about recent delays in filing applications, Laura Jane Kesner, who heads the charge evaluation division for the attorney general’s office, said the case was “complex” and required a broad review.

In the year since Bloom’s latest arrest, Damour says, others have contacted her saying he tried to con them.

A man sitting in a house at the window.

Sean Kushner sitting in his rented home in Los Angeles. Kushner said David Blum contacted him with a financial offer. (Wally Scalig/Los Angeles Times)

Among them was Sean Kushner. Kushner, a life coach who helps people with substance abuse issues, said he met Bloom at the Hi-Ho Cheeseburger in Marina del Rey a few months ago. At first he is amused by the quirky older man who talks about stocks and insists he knows Kazunori Nozawa, the sushi chef behind the Sugarfish chain.

“Within 20 minutes of his interview, he started talking about how he goes at 4 am with Kazunori to look at the fish and Kazunori checks the eyes of the fish, that way he knows what a good fish is,” Kushner said.

As soon as the subject of Kushner’s career — and the fact that he sometimes works with high-profile clients — came up, Blum asked to exchange numbers. And when Kushner revealed he was struggling to find a home in the expensive Los Angeles housing market, Bloom said he wanted to help his new friend because he was a “good person” to help others with their struggles with addiction.

Bloom promised to get Kushner a million-dollar home as long as he could save up a portion of the down payment up front. Suspicious, Kushner held back. The longer he waited, the more ridiculous Bloom’s boast became: He promised to fly the Kushners to the famous Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc in France. He canceled his meetings with Kushner because he needed to travel to the Bay Area for a fundraiser for President Biden.

Eventually, a Google search led Kushner to New York Post, a compilation of previous coverage of Bloom.

Kushner immediately cursed Bloom via text message for allegedly trying to rip him off. Bloom politely asked Kushner to stop contacting him, according to the letters reviewed by The Times.

“He’s a complete sociopath,” Kushner said.

While many of Bloom’s accusers spoke to The Times on condition of anonymity out of embarrassment or fear that news of their naivety might hurt them professionally, D’Amore was adamant about using her acclaim and her voice to hunt down Bloom.

“The reason these people get away with it is because people are too afraid to admit they’ve been defrauded,” she said. “I’m willing to be the face…you know what? We’re not the ones who should be embarrassed.”

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.


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