Statement from Gordon Gossage made on January 4, 2022 at 2:00 PM
This document supersedes all previous versions
Please note this is NOT an article.
It’s an outline including excerpts from, and giving context to, many sources of content available through the embedded links. For this reason, at 9,000 words, this document is obviously longer than it should ideally be. With the help of professional journalists, I’m co-creating more succinct versions!!! Even without following the links, it’s a 37-minute read.
I can be reached at:
On December 29, 2021 at 9:15 AM, I read the SEC’s charges against Medallion Financial detailed below -- right after they were made public and just before the market opened. Over seven years ago, I began my investigation and online publishing about illegal actions by Medallion Financial, Andrew Murstein, President and Chief Operating Officer, and Lawrence Meyers, black hat social media practitioner. They were now charged with stock touting fraud, inflating the values of all medallion-related loans, and other violations by the SEC. The SEC complaint states Murstein and Meyers signed an agreement on December 19, 2014, the afternoon of the same day Jay Hickman and I published our first publicly available report.
Our report was the first public forecast of the collapse in medallion cash flows and values by any analyst. We explained our thesis for why the company would have to start writing down the carrying value of Chicago medallions held by the company imminently, followed shortly after with write-downs of loan carrying values in New York, Chicago, and Boston as medallion economics, due to the surging and relentless competition from Uber and Lyft, began to drive non-performance of medallion loans and cut the company’s artificially inflated dividend as cash flow collapsed.
The egregious write up of the book value of the Medallion Bank subsidiary hadn’t occurred yet, nor had Lawrence Meyers started the intimidation campaign against us secretly, and therefore illegally, paid for by Andrew Murstein. The campaign was triggered by our first report. As the actual outcomes we predicted came to pass, the campaign became increasingly threatening and poisonous.
It’s been a long, long seven years.
Over these seven years, I’ve been the target of Lawrence Meyer’s black hat social media campaign and threats of legal action by one of the top 25 global law firms. I was targeted as part of the strategy to intimidate and silence critics publicizing the stock touting fraud and illegal inflation of medallion-related loans driven by Andrew Murstein, President of Medallion Financial.
Before deleting it, as detailed in the SEC’s complaint, Meyers’s website stated: “[w]e will employ any strategy or tactic you desire”; “if you are under attack from opponents seeking to destroy you, we will launch an asymmetrical, sustained, multi-front assault on them”; and “Anonymity—Attack opponents without client exposure—you are kept in the clear … Because we operate without any detectable connection to you, you may engage opponents in any way you choose, while we carry out our stealth mission to undermine their position.”
The SEC’s complaint also states On August 5, 2016, Murstein instructed the Contractor to accuse two individuals who had criticized Medallion Financial on Seeking Alpha of being “security law violators …”
…Meyers prepared his articles and comments in close coordination with Murstein. As Murstein was particularly angered by the posts of several individuals, Meyers frequently targeted these individuals with vitriolic postings...
The emails sent to all seven Reno City Councilmembers on December 13, 2018 and the Medium article referred to in the email below I sent on July 19, 2020 remain a problem for me anytime someone Googles my name. In April 2021, a significant business venture I was part of fell apart due to this Medium article, triggering a financial setback and loss of momentum of my current company, Regenesis Reno.
The fraud at Medallion Financial is very, very complex. I will be very grateful if readers can be patient as the story unfolds below.
By Jonathan Stempel
Updated on December 29, 2021 10:54 AM EST
Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York and Susan Heavey in Washington, D.C.; Editing by Louise Heavens and Chizu Nomiyama
NEW YORK, Dec 29 (Reuters) - The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission charged Medallion Financial Corp and its president with fraud for trying to inflate the stock price of the lender to taxicab medallion buyers, amid competition from Uber (UBER.N) and Lyft. Medallion shares plummeted $3.83, or 45.3%, to $4.62 in morning trading, after earlier falling to $3.50. In a complaint filed on Wednesday in Manhattan federal court, the SEC said Medallion and President Andrew Murstein paid a California media strategist to anonymously promote Medallion on websites including Huffington Post, Seeking Alpha, TheStreet.com and Crain's New York Business.
Murstein, 57, a Medallion founder whose family is the New York-based company's largest shareholder, allegedly kept touters on Medallion's payroll for nearly two years and paid hush money to keep one quiet. According to the complaint, Murstein also fraudulently inflated the value of Medallion's banking unit to offset loan losses, and against his auditor's advice fired a valuation firm that refused to vet the scheme. The alleged schemes occurred from 2014 to 2017, as the growing popularity of ridesharing companies such as Uber and Lyft led to sinking prices for medallions, which are licenses to operate taxis and collect fares. Medallion paid Murstein $11.4 million over that period, SEC filings show.
"Murstein allegedly paid for more than 50 articles and hundreds of positive comments, which were really paid advertisements," Richard Best, director of the SEC's New York office, said in a statement. "Companies also cannot shop for higher valuations when there is no evidence to support them." In a statement, Medallion said it intended to defend against the SEC's "unfounded" charges and was confident the record would show that the company and Murstein complied with the law.
The SEC also charged the media strategist Ichabod's Cranium Inc and its owner Lawrence Meyers with fraud. Their lawyer did not immediately respond to requests for comment. According to the SEC, the value of New York City medallions fell to $150,000 in 2017 from $1.3 million in 2013. Some medallion lenders went bankrupt as owners defaulted on their loans.
Source of the article above:
By Jonathan Stempel, Reuters
Updated on December 29, 2021 10:54 AM EST
Case 1:21-cv-11125 Document 1 Filed 12/29/21 49 pages
Richard R. Best, Regional Director of the SEC filed the complaint.
It will be a long, long time before justice is served against the defendants. If any reader is aware of information concerning this case, you may be eligible for an award from the SEC Whistleblower Program. Answers to Frequently Asked Questions are available here.
Whether or not you are eligible, due to convictions or as a result of plea bargains, the money clawed back from the defendants can provide restitution to their victims. For decades, the Murstein Family and their co-conspirators made millions of dollars from the misery of thousands of medallion taxi owner/operators, people on fixed-incomes chasing elusive stock dividends, and low-information traders and stockholders failing to outwit the illegal actions of these co-conspirators.
Even if you’re not sure the information you have will benefit the prosecution, please email David Stoelting at email@example.com, call him on his direct line: (212) 336-0174, or mail him at the address below. If you prefer to remain anonymous, please follow the process described in Item 10 of the Whistleblower FAQ to submit your information through the online Tips, Complaints and Referrals questionnaire, or by submitting hard copy Form TCR.
Senior Trial Counsel (DS-0565)
U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
New York Regional Office
200 Vesey Street, Suite 400
New York, NY 10281-1022
Illegal Stock Touting by Lawrence Meyers Paid for by Andrew Murstein
The SEC charged that on December 19, 2014, the afternoon of the publication of the article below titled The Downside For Medallion Financial Only Just Beginning, Meyers and Murstein signed a consulting agreement which
…stated that Meyers was being retained to “provide  various public relations, marketing and communications services, such as articles, blog posts . . . in order to influence public opinion with regard to company issues.” For providing these services and agreeing “to partner with [the] Company,” … the Consulting Agreement also provided that, prior to the publication of any “articles, blog posts, etc.,” Meyers “must receive the prior written approval of both [Medallion Financial’s] President and Legal Department,” who are required to “review and approve or reject” any materials …between December 2014 and June 2016, Meyers published at least fifty to sixty articles and hundreds of comments relating to Medallion Financial, for which the company paid Meyers approximately $65,000. Meyers never disclosed the compensation he received from Medallion Financial.
The fraud charged by the SEC occurred between 2014 and 2017. Why did the SEC wait FIVE YEARS to file their charges?
Timing of the SEC filing may or may not have been linked to the filing of the extremely complex case against the Trump Organization. Over three years ago, Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal lawyer and a fixture in the Russian-dominated medallion taxi industry, began cooperating with Cyrus Vance, Manhattan District Attorney. Cohen’s insider accounts sparked Vance’s investigations. Like the SEC case, after several years it’s believed the Manhattan DA’s investigation is nearing a conclusion.
The Political Connections of the Murstein Family
Andrew Murstein, his father Alvin Murstein, his grandfather Leon Murstein, and Michael Cohen were well-connected to many city leaders – shielding them from scrutiny for decades.
Leon Murstein purchased one of the first New York City taxi medallions, issued in 1937, and went on to purchase several hundred medallions. His son Alvin became Chairman of the three predecessor companies of Medallion Financial in 1979 and at 86, Alvin Murstein remains the current Chairman.
Benjamin Ward, New York City Police Commissioner from 1986 to 1989, baseball player, Hank Aaron, and Lowell Weicker were on the board of directors of Medallion Financial for many years. Weicker was Connecticut’s Senator from 1971 to 1989 and Governor of Connecticut from 1991 to 1995.
After serving until 1994 as Governor of New York, Mario Cuomo was on the board from 1996, when the company went public, through his death in 2015. In 2002, the elder Cuomo steered substantial contributions from Andrew Murstein and his associates to his son Andrew Cuomo for his unsuccessful bid to win the gubernatorial primary in 2002.
Posted on May 7, 2018 by Gordon Gossage in his blog, Boston Lyft Diaries
Which Insiders Rolled Over On Russian Big Taxi in April 2018?
Is Michael Cohen a stand-up guy or a weasel with a song to sing?
How about Andrew Murstein, Cronies and Company?
Who provided background information to prosecutors and regulators?
Who applied for SEC Whistleblower Awards?
Where DID Trump get his money after his six bankruptcies and NO bank would lend him money except Deutsche Bank?
Deutsche Bank has been caught enabling money-laundering for Russian oligarchs and misleading financial regulators in three countries. Since becoming president, Donald Trump showed exceptional deference to Vladimir Putin and the oligarch-dominated criminal state Russia has become. Speculation has swirled around the theory that Trump’s deference was triggered by money borrowed from one or more of these oligarchs. Michael Cohen was the lawyer for taxi kingpins: Symon “Simon” Garber and Yevgeny “Gene” Friedman. Multi-billionaire oligarch, Vladimir Sloutsker financed Garber’s taxi operations in New York, Chicago, and Moscow.
How many Russian oligarchs did Trump know before working with Michael Cohen? If the dots can be connected, it would require well-funded and passionate investigative journalism.
For more on Gene Friedman and his connection with Michael Cohen see:
By Brian M. Rosenthal and William K. Rashbaum
The New York Times
October 30, 2019
By Brian M. Rosenthal
The New York Times
December 5, 2019
Brian M. Rosenthal has done more to uncover illegal and unethical behavior in the medallion taxi industry than any other investigative journalist on the planet. He won the 2020 Pulitzer Prize in Investigative Reporting for revealing that leaders of the New York taxi industry had trapped thousands of cabdrivers in predatory loans. Parts 1 and 2 are below:
By Brian M. Rosenthal
The New York Times
May 19, 2019
By Brian M. Rosenthal
The New York Times
May 19, 2019
On the day of publication, Brian graciously sent me an email saying: You win the award for being the first person to write in. Thank you and thank you for your help!
The following day, New York State Attorney General Letitia James took action.
Inquiries Into Reckless Loans to Taxi Drivers Ordered by State Attorney General and Mayor: The investigations come after The New York Times found that thousands of drivers were crushed under debt they could not repay.
By Brian M. Rosenthal
The New York Times
May 20, 2019
For more on Michael Cohen and his key connection to the medallion taxi industry, see:
By Michael Cohen
September 8, 2020
Cohen is now working on his second book to be published in 2022 including content never revealed publicly. It’s unclear how the timing of the publication is related to the New York investigations.
By William K. Rashbaum, Danny Hakim, Brian M. Rosenthal, Emily Flitter and Jesse Drucker
The New York Times
May 5, 2018
…While he has not been charged with a crime [as of the date of this article], many of his associates have faced either criminal charges or stiff regulatory penalties. That includes partners in the taxi business, doctors for whom he helped establish medical clinics and lawyers with whom he worked.
He has spent much of his personal and professional life with immigrants from Russia and Ukraine. His father-in-law, who helped establish him in the taxi business, was born in Ukraine, as was one of Mr. Cohen’s partners in that industry. Another partner was Russian. And Mr. Cohen used his connections in the region when scouting business opportunities for Mr. Trump in former Soviet republics.
More recently, Mr. Cohen and his father-in-law lent more than $25 million to a Ukrainian businessman who has a checkered financial record and a history of defaulting on loans. And Mr. Cohen long held a small stake in his uncle’s catering hall, which was frequented by Russian and Italian mobsters…
…Mr. Trump’s lawyers are resigned to the strong possibility that the investigation of Mr. Cohen’s businesses could lead him to cooperate with federal prosecutors…
… [Mr. Cohen’s uncle, Dr. Morton] Levine, a family practitioner, provided medical assistance to members of the Lucchese crime family, “which aided their illegal activities,” according to a sworn affidavit in 1993 from an F.B.I. special agent…
Dr. Levine also owned El Caribe, a Brooklyn catering hall that for decades was the scene of mob weddings and Christmas parties. Two of New York’s most notorious Russian mobsters once maintained offices there. Mr. Cohen was among the minority owners of El Caribe…
…Mr. Cohen’s marriage in 1994 gave him entree to communities of immigrants from the former Soviet Union. His new father-in-law, Fima Shusterman, had emigrated from Ukraine in 1975. By the time of the wedding, Mr. Shusterman had landed in serious legal trouble. In 1993, he pleaded guilty to evading federal reporting requirements for large cash transactions, admitting that he had cashed $5.5 million worth of checks to evade disclosure laws…
… In the years after his marriage, Mr. Cohen began doing business with Ukrainian and Russian immigrants. They hailed from…neighborhoods like the Brighton Beach section of Brooklyn and parts of Miami like Sunny Isles, known as the Russian Riviera, communities through which a vein of organized crime ran… [Mr. Cohen was in a] deal involving a hockey player and a purported figure from the Russian underworld…Mr. Cohen received a check for $350,000 from a Russian player for the Montreal Canadiens that was part of a deal involving an apartment in Sunny Isles. The player’s agent later testified that the money was intended to go to Vitaly Buslaev. Mr. Buslaev, who has been identified by multiple Russian media outlets as a Mafia figure, was a friend of one of Mr. Cohen’s business partners, according to two people who knew both men…
… [he made] a 2003 investment in a Florida casino boat with several Ukrainian immigrants that failed. After that, he helped members of his own family set up an ethanol production business in Ukraine…
… Mr. Cohen’s father-in-law, Mr. Shusterman…accumulated nine taxi medallions [by 1993] — the coveted metal placards that permit people to own or operate cabs — then worth roughly $1.5 million… [He] introduced his son-in-law to Ilya Palinsky, a longtime fixture in the business…Mr. Cohen began building his own taxi business…[and] partnered with Symon Garber, another Ukrainian-born businessman, who was borrowing large amounts of money to finance taxi businesses in both Russia and the United States. A lawyer for the two men said in a court filing that he had helped them lay the groundwork for a planned taxi business in Moscow in the mid-1990s …
… Mr. Cohen borrowed from a half-dozen banks and credit unions to buy taxi medallions. Then he used the medallions as collateral to borrow more money to buy more medallions … quickly amassed 30 medallions … [worth a total of $7,500,000] … but racked up millions in debt … [Garber and Cohen] managed 260 cabs in the late 1990s and early 2000s …
… In 2007, Mr. Cohen started working for the Trump Organization … a roving fixer for Mr. Trump … traveled to the former Soviet bloc on Mr. Trump’s behalf, visiting Georgia in 2010 … During Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign, Mr. Cohen pursued plans for a Trump Tower in Moscow with Felix Sater, a Russian immigrant and friend of Mr. Cohen, who had worked on other real estate development deals with Mr. Trump and had explored possible ventures in Russia. Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen worked with Mr. Sater even after his role in a stock manipulation scheme involving Mafia figures and Russian criminals was revealed. (Mr. Sater pleaded guilty and became an informant for the F.B.I. and intelligence agencies.) …
… Mr. Cohen turned over management of his cabs to Mr. Garber in 2006 and received as much as $1 million per year … after a falling-out with Mr. Garber, Mr. Cohen became partners with Evgeny Freidman, known as Gene, an immigrant from St. Petersburg, Russia, who had assembled a large taxi fleet … [Both Garber and Friedman had] to pay more than $1 million for overcharging their drivers … business partners also accused each of them of forging signatures, stiffing lawyers and dodging debt collection efforts … [Garber] used 180 unauthorized cars as taxis in [Chicago]; he agreed to pay [an additional] fine of nearly $1 million … in 2016 … [Friedman] transferred more than $60 million into offshore trusts to avoid paying debts … New York City regulators barred him from continuing to manage medallions [and was charged with failure] to pay $5 million in taxes …
… Despite the prohibition issued by city regulators, Mr. Freidman is still managing Mr. Cohen’s medallions, both men have said … they have simultaneously worked to inflate the value of their medallions and rip off their drivers … from 2009 to 2014, Mr. Cohen — by then a trusted member of the Trump Organization — plowed $5.7 million into 22 Chicago taxi medallions …
… The financial maneuvering has continued even after the federal search warrants were executed. On April 24, Mr. Cohen refinanced all 16 of his taxi company medallion loans. The transactions, with Sterling National Bank, appeared to extend the due dates on the loans by four years … added a new, unusual source of collateral: If Mr. Cohen were to default, Sterling would have the right to any money that Mr. Freidman owes Mr. Cohen … he received [additional] funds around the time that he and his father-in-law, Mr. Shusterman, lent a combined $26 million to a Ukrainian immigrant and taxi-fleet operator named Semyon Shtayner … the transactions were unusual: Mr. Shtayner has had nearly $1.7 million in judgments and liens against him over the years, yet Mr. Cohen made large loans backed by collateral that appears to be worth less than the value of the loans. Since 2012, Mr. Cohen has lent $6 million to Mr. Shtayner, whose family owns Chicago Medallion Management Corporation, which manages more than 300 cabs in that city — including those owned by Mr. Cohen. The only collateral on the loans appears to be the Shtayners’ condominium in Sunny Isles, purchased in 2009 for $2.35 million … Mr. Shusterman has lent $20 million to Mr. Shtayner’s wife, Yasya …
Why was I the target of Lawrence Meyer’s black hat social media campaign and threats of legal action by one of the top 25 global law firms?
I was targeted as part of the strategy to intimidate and silence critics publicizing the stock touting fraud and illegal inflation of medallion-related loans driven by Andrew Murstein, President and
Chief Operating Officer of Medallion Financial.
Beginning in 2014, I began posting about stock touting fraud on the online investment sites Seeking Alpha and Yahoo Finance. The SEC charges covered the period beginning in 2014 and through 2017. In December 2014, I worked for Oleg Uritsky and with Jay Hickman publishing articles and comments severely critical of Medallion Financial primarily on the online investment sites Seeking Alpha and Yahoo Finance. Going forward, we extensively documented our charges of violating banking laws, stock touting fraud, and other SEC regulations. The content below details my activity and the intimidation by Lawrence Meyers on behalf of Andrew Murstein, President and COO of Medallion Financial and his co-conspirators.
Why was Andrew Murstein so angry towards me and Jay? Our exposure of his fraud at Medallion Financial triggered an alternative investment thesis held increasingly by many, many traders and investors. The morning of December 18, 2014, a few hours before the first report appeared, MFIN opened at an adjusted price of $8.70. Adjusted prices take into account splits and dividend and/or capital gain distributions making them accurately comparable to prices in December 2021.
Two years and three months of deteriorating perception of MFIN’s prospects drove the closing price on March 7, 2017 to a low of $1.68 – a drop of 81% since the publication of the first report linked to below titled The Downside For Medallion Financial Only Just Beginning.
The low of $1.68 was also a drop of 56% over the 21 years since the Murstein Family took the company public in May 1996 at an adjusted price of $3.80. After two decades, the Family had made so much money in so many ways other than MFIN stock, only a small percentage of their net worth included the MFIN stock they held. Just as profited from their victims unable to pay their usurious loans, Andrew Murstein and his co-conspirators had profited off the misery of people on fixed-incomes chasing elusive stock dividends, and the misery of low-information traders and stockholders.
Posted on May 23, 2018 by Gordon Gossage in his blog, Boston Lyft Diaries
After the news on May 22, 2018 that Gene Friedman is cooperating against Michael Cohen, I need to publicly surface all of the information below after events including the threatened legal action against me by Randy Mastro on December 24, 2016. Mastro was hired by Andrew Murstein, president of Medallion Financial (NASDAQ: MFIN, formerly TAXI), the leading provider of tax medallion loans. Mastro has been the lead attorney for many years in the long-running multi-billion-dollar legal battle involving ConocoPhillips, who deliberately dumped and refused to clean up 18 billion gallons of toxic waste in the Ecuadorian Amazon. I received a second legal threat from Mastro and Murstein earlier this year.
The taxi medallion industry in New York, Chicago and Boston is a coordinated criminal enterprise at many levels fueled by exploitation of drivers, predatory lending, market manipulation, physical threats, securities fraud, violation of banking regulations and past collusion by city governments.
The value of taxi medallions for decades has been driven by the profits inherent in a system that through city government supported oligopolies has extracted the cash generated by the gap between market distorted passenger revenue and a shift driver workforce making indentured servant wages.
The second profit driver over the years before Uber’s entry was the taxi medallion bubble. The bubble was engineered by non-arm’s length transfers and cooperation among the largest industry players in New York, Chicago and Boston. There was absolutely no economic reason for the simultaneous run up in medallion prices in New York, Chicago and Boston.
This kind of money attracts criminals at a very, very high level.
1. At the peak of the taxi medallion bubble in Spring 2014, the total value of the 22,450 medallions in the three cities was $20 billion.
2. In Spring 2014 the total medallion loans outstanding from the Top 12 taxi medallion lenders was $6 billion. Through March 31, 2018, medallion values are trapped in an illiquid market with a handful of transfers priced at a fraction of the 2014 value.
3. I have medallion transfer information from the Boston regulator’s Medallion Files for the 59 transfers between January 1, 2015 through August 31, 2016. Only a small percentage of these transfers appear to be arm’s length. Over many months I analyzed this information, however I have only published a subset of my analysis. Details of my Boston analysis are available online. Analysis of the fragile state of New York medallion loans was extensively documented in two recent articles in Seeking Alpha by DeepResearch707.
4. Analysis and conclusions from my investigation of the taxi industry in New York, Chicago and Boston appear online in Seeking Alpha, Yahoo Finance and my own blog, Sharing Opinions. Medallion Financial (MFIN) is close to a pure play in the medallion taxi industry. Being publicly traded since 1996, MFIN has been forced to reveal information in detail for all three cities not available from other industry players. Content from me and several other authors appears on online investment sites covering MFIN.
5. Although only briefly mentioned in web content provided by me, the four wealthiest individuals in the taxi industry appear to be Vladimir Sloutsker, Symon “Simon” Garber, Yevgeny “Gene” Friedman and Andrew Murstein, president of MFIN. At the top of the bubble Friedman owned 860 New York medallions with a total value of $1 billion. Garber owned 830 Chicago medallions and 400 New York medallions with a total value of $730 million at the peak of the bubble. Andrew Murstein’s net worth is $650 million. [Note if Murstein’s net worth increased at the same rate as the S&P 500, his net worth on December 29, 2021 would be $1.1 billion. The Murstein Family’s stock in Medallion Financial, worth only $22 million on December 29, 2021, has been inconsequential to their net worth for years. Alvin and Andrew Murstein have had many, many ways of making money since the 1970s, including legal and illegal business transactions beyond the need to disclose on SEC reports and massive insider trading taking advantage of their pump and dump tactics over the past 26 years.]
6. Eddie Tutunjian dominates Boston with 372 medallions with a total value at the peak of $260 million. As documented by me online, I met an elderly Russian-born owner at a medallion auction who stated he was Tutunjian’s original financier. Although the eleven people in the room knew him, he refused to give me his name. However, I could identify him in a photograph.
7. Vladimir Sloutsker has known Simon Garber since 1992, when they met in Monaco. They founded Moscow Taxi together in 1995 and grew it to a fleet of 2,500 vehicles by their peak in 1998 just prior to the collapse of the Russian economy under Yeltsin. The strong-arm tactics necessary to build a business of this size in the Yeltsin era are well-documented and were absolutely necessary in that all-cash business.
8. While in Russia in 2001, Garber became friends with Patrick Daley, the son of long-time Chicago mayor Richard M. Daley. Patrick Daley has a history of under the table deals. He profited from a concealed investment in Municipal Sewer Services, later awarded a $3 million, no-bid city contract. He also had a concealed investment in Concourse Communications, awarded a contract for Wi-Fi service at city-owned O’Hare Airport. Garber is widely reported to have used his relationship with Patrick Daley to enter the Chicago medallion market.
9. In 2002, Medallion Financial repossessed 400 medallions from Yellow Cab, a leader in the Chicago taxi industry. Garber founded Chicago Carriage Cab in 2003 with these medallions after transfer from Medallion Financial.
10. Despite a market price of $42,000 in March 2003, Garber was involved in deals at $60,000. In November 2006, prices began to escalate from a median price of $60,000. In a city auction of 50 medallions, winning bids ranged between $77,250 to $81,002. Of the 15 highest bids, Garber made 11 of them.
11. In an NPR interview, Gene Friedman proudly stated he paid above market prices for New York medallions.
12. Fresh out of law school, Gene Friedman moved to Russia to work for Sam Zell, the legendary real estate investor who entered and then withdrew from the Moscow real estate market, citing its unsurmountable corruption. With no money of his own and Russian financing, Friedman returned to New York in 1996 to launch his taxi business. The names of the Russian oligarchs funding him in 1996 have not been revealed. However, Freidman might reveal them as part of his plea deal in May 2018.
13. MFIN’s president, Andrew Murstein, is the grandson of the company founder, Leon Murstein, who purchased medallions when they were first issued by the City of New York in 1937 for $150 each inflation-adjusted to 2018. He entered the medallion lending business in the 1970’s.
14. Garber’s partner, Roman Sapino, is the owner of the very active New York medallion brokerage firms Chelsea Taxi Brokers and Big Apple Brokerage. In my conversations with one of Sapino’s brokers, he revealed they brokered many of the transfers of corporate and individual medallions in 2015 and 2016 clearly at non-arm’s length prices.
15. In my blog, I first recommended shorting MFIN in June 2014 as a way to bet on the success of Uber. The medallion bubble crested in spring 2014.
16. Since my strong recommendation to short and sell MFIN I’ve posted millions of words of content. I have been the most prolific online MFIN critic for a long time. After a typical pump and dump scheme, MFIN hit a 52-week high of $10.00 in March 2016 and subsequently dropped by 78%. After the price of $3.33 on January 23, 2017, the stock again dropped precipitously after a complete capitulation. On January 31, 2017, alone MFIN opened at $2.59 and dropped 16% to $2.17. This is a typical high-volume MFIN roundtrip that has happened for over four years.
17. A recent pump and dump scheme saw the crest of insider dumping on low information investors in January 2018. From the close of $3.87 on January 9, 2018 to the crest of the dump at $5.56 on January 16, 2018, during a 44% juice in price, the 4-day volume of 4,200,000 shares was 9 times the volume of the week before.
18. The recent 51% runup over eight trading days from the low of $3.59 on May 11, 2018 to $5.40 on May 22, 2018 is too early in the pump and dump cycle to determine when and at what price it will end. Pump and dump trading patterns are repeatedly evidenced since the November 2013 peak of $17.74, just before MFIN issued $45,000,000 in secondary stock.
19. Given extensive securities fraud and violation of state and federal banking regulations, there is ample opportunity for civil cases and class action suits. If MFIN files for bankruptcy, MFIN’s president, Andrew Murstein, has deep pockets with a reported net worth of $650 million. Obviously not being an attorney, I’m unfamiliar with piercing the corporate veil as part of a disgorgement order.
20. Ronn Torossian has done extensive work for Gene Friedman and Virgin Islands-based Cane Bay Partners, owners of CashJar.com and other offshore pay day lenders. Cane Bay has been a substantial investor in MFIN and payday lenders. Torossian is a very successful, well known, and controversial PR practitioner.
21. Torossian has confessed to using black hat social media techniques online by paying for anonymous authors without disclosing their true identities and impersonating real people for his client Agriprocessors, a slaughterhouse and meat-packaging factory. They faced multiple accusations of mistreatment of animals, pollution, and extensive violations of labor law.
22. Lawrence Meyers of PDL Capital (Pay Day Lending) led the black at campaign on Seeking Alpha and Yahoo Finance against me and other critics of MFIN and the taxi medallion industry. Bullish statements given to Wall Street analysts by Torossian’s client and major MFIN investor, Cane Bay Partners, were virtually identical to bullish statements posted online by Meyers.
23. On Seeking Alpha, Meyers promoted the stock of ForceField Energy, whose chairman Richard St. Julien was arrested by Federal authorities while boarding a plane to Costa Rica in April 2015. Twelve defendants were charged with manipulating ForceField’s stock from December 2009 to April 2015 by secretly trading it in undisclosed accounts, inflating trading volume to create a false sense of demand, and concealing kickbacks to stock promoters and brokers to tout it. U.S. prosecutors charged them with fraud causing $131 million of losses. Outlets for illegal promotion included Seeking Alpha. It is unclear why Meyers wasn’t charged.
24. Jeffrey Goldberg, now Editor in Chief of The Atlantic magazine, called Torossian “the most disreputable flack in New York”, particularly criticizing his representation of what Goldberg called the “lunatic fringe” of right-wing Israeli politics. Torossian promotes the proposal to “transfer” all Arabs out of Israel. The leaders of these factions are dominated by Russian-born Israelis.
25. Vladimir Sloutsker (sometimes Slutsker) is a multi-billionaire oligarch who created his wealth during the anarchic period immediately following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. He was a Senator and is very active in Israeli politics, including serving as president of the right-wing Israeli Jewish Congress. Sloutsker threatened his former business partner, Alexei Kozlov with death and had him jailed for four years. I suspect that’s the tip of the iceberg for Sloutsker’s criminality, however I’ve never had the ability to do research in Russia.
26. Gene Friedman was initially financed by the Russian oligarch: Len Blavatnik in the nineties. As of January 2018, Blavatnik was the wealthiest man in the United Kingdom, and the 50th wealthiest in the world, with a net worth of $21 billion. He was the primary initial investor in Gett Taxi. By June 2012, the company had raised US$30 million, including $9 million more from Blavatnik, to facilitate Gett’s entry into New York City as well as other U.S. markets. They operate in New York as Juno. Volkswagen invested US$300 million in Gett in 2016. Gett raised another $80 million from major shareholders including Volkswagen and Blavatnik in a funding round in June 2018 valuing the company at US$1.4 billion. In December 2018, Volkswagen wrote off 100% of their investment after the ride hailing app failed to gain ground on bigger rivals Uber, Lyft and Didi. As a private company, it is difficult to estimate how much money Blavatnik made from Gett’s operations over the years.
27. The Wall Street Journal and many other sources describe Blavatnik as a major funder and “friend” of Benjamin Netanyahu. In 2017, after two senior Trump administration officials went on record as being lobbyists for Blavatnik’s Access Industries, Blavatnik was mentioned in investigations led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into Russian donations to the administration. Since April 2016 Blavatnik contributed $383,000 to the Republican National Committee and $1 million to Trump’s inauguration fund.
28. In 2005, an assassin shot Colonel-General Anatoly Trofimov, former deputy head of the federal counter-intelligence service. In 1996, Trofimov was a protege of Alexander Korzhakov, the head of Yeltsin’s personal security service, when the president’s supporters divided on how to ensure his re-election to the Kremlin. Korzhakov caught rivals carrying a cardboard box containing £265,000 from the government building known as the White House. Gen Trofimov was appointed to head the inquiry, which put him in competition with a group of oligarchs headed by the young reformer Anatoly Chubais. Trofimov was a security consultant to several large companies, including Finvest, a company involved in the Moscow taxi trade. Vladimir Sloutsker was Chairman of the Board of Finvest.
29. The pump and dump scams surrounding Medallion Financial (NASDAQ: MFIN, formerly TAXI) were managed, among others, by Chuck Gillman, Managing Director of the IDWR Multi-Family Office. Gillman is a convicted perpetrator of similar SEC violations.
30. Vladimir Sloutsker, Simon Garber and Yevgeny “Gene” Friedman were born in Russia or Ukraine. It is believed by many in the industry that the market for transferring Boston medallions is controlled by Eddie Tutunjian and “The Russians”.
31. Russian Big Taxi has collapsed.
Posted on May 23, 2018 by Gordon Gossage in his blog, Boston Lyft Diaries
Posted on May 23, 2018 by Gordon Gossage in his blog, Boston Lyft Diaries
Posted on July 27, 2018 by Gordon Gossage in his blog, Boston Lyft Diaries
Posted on December 31, 2016 by Gordon Gossage in his blog, Boston Lyft Diaries
On Christmas Eve 2016, I received a threatening letter from Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, a white shoe Wall Street law firm hired by Andrew Murstein, president of Medallion Financial (NASDAQ: MFIN). Disclosure: in addition to this blog, I’ve written a whole, whole lot about MFIN in comments on the online investment sites Seeking Alpha and Yahoo Finance Conversations.
Andrew is a member of Big Taxi Royalty. In 1937, his grandfather Leon Murstein purchased one of the first New York taxi medallions issued for $10. The Murstein Family went on to purchase several hundred medallions.
Unlike many, many of his borrowers, Murstein reportedly sold the majority of his medallions in 2012 and 2013 before Uber and Lyft devastated the value of taxi medallions in New York, Chicago and Boston. His company holds over $600 million of medallion loans in these three cities. His borrowers are drowning in debt.
Andrew can be reached at (212) 328-2176, by email through investor relations at www.medallion.com/investors or by mail at 437 Madison Avenue, 38th Floor, New York, New York 10022.
Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher is a global law firm founded in 1890 with $1,470,000,000 in revenue. Gibson Dunn has over 1,000 attorneys and 2,000 staff located in 18 offices around the world, including North and South America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.
Murstein hired Gibson Dunn to scare the crap out of me.
Their mission failed.
Disclosure Update: I have submitted a consulting proposal to Nick Hanauer through Neal Bisno and other leaders of the SEIU.
The proposal asks for funding a team in Boston to fight predatory lending by Big Taxi lenders to the 450 taxi medallion owner operators in Boston. The team will also launch an initiative to provide portable benefits to the 30,000 Uber, Lyft and taxi drivers in Greater Boston.
Readers: I’m proud to tell you that last night, December 31, 2016, I picked up my 4000th passenger as a driver for Uber and Lyft. Yes, I timed it. Starting on August 21, 2013 I was one of the first fifty Lyft drivers in Boston. I picked up the most passengers in Boston after the first year of launch. However, at this point, hundreds of Uber and Lyft drivers have surpassed me.
I’m also a licensed taxi driver in the City of Boston, Hackney License #22344.
Unlike thousands of drivers, I’ve never depended on my Uber and Lyft income to make ends meet. Thousands of my sisters and brothers behind the wheel do. I know hundreds personally and through online driver forums. Please read about my good friend Jennifer Guidry in The New York Times.
In my previous disclosures and a project description before the market close on January 19, 2016 I benefited directly or indirectly from parties who have from time to time held short or long positions in, acted as principal in, and bought or sold the securities of companies holding taxi medallion related assets. As of the market close on January 19, 2016, I no longer benefited directly or indirectly from these parties.
If Nick or any other funder approves any version of my proposal, I will benefit financially from any consulting engagements associated with that proposal. I will be happy to sign an affidavit for all of the statements above, to provide tax returns for 2015 and 2016 and to provide the financial statements detailing my current income and expenses filed in association with my divorce to any officers of the court in any jurisdiction or to the Attorney General of Massachusetts.
Readers: I will be representing myself in court, so sorry for all this legal beagle stuff!!
Any legal action citing any compensation described above claiming I benefited after January 19, 2016 is astoundingly stupid…I mean without merit….
Gibson Dunn and Andrew Murstein have threatened to ask a judge to issue an injunction to immediately stop me from:
· Publishing and making statements critical of the behavior of Medallion Financial management
· Advocating for and attending meetings of borrowers holding medallion loans provided by Medallion Financial
· Promoting a coop of taxi medallion owner operators in Boston and other cities
Can you guys believe Big Taxi’s efforts to undermine our sacred freedom of speech, infringe on our freedom of the press, interfere with our right to assemble and attempting to prohibit our right to petition the Attorney General of Massachusetts to redress grievances related to predatory lending and securities fraud?
We are Americans. Our First Amendment rights are inalienable.
Even a gigantic Wall Street Law Firm in an alliance with Big Taxi can’t take these rights away from us.
Here’s a great article titled Reflections on the First Amendment and the Information Economy. We have many friends at the Harvard Law School. Big Taxi does not.
Andrew has a net worth of $650,000,000.
Andrew: I’m not afraid of you…sorry you failed.
These are the two attorneys Andrew hired to threaten me:
Randy Mastro, RMastro@gibsondunn.com , Direct Line: (212) 351-3825
Randy: I’m not afraid of you…sorry you failed.
Randy served as Rudy Giuliani’s deputy from 1993 to 1998 before returning to Gibson Dunn to make money again. In January 2014, Chris Christie hired Randy to try to contain the Bridgegate scandal. Randy failed.
Anne Champion, AChampion@gibsondunn.com , Direct Line: (212) 351-5361
Anne: I’m not afraid of you…sorry you failed.
In the first entry of her online advertisement, she crows about being one of the team Randy has led for years representing Chevron in its long-running, $19 billion war on indigenous people in Ecuador, one of the worst environmental crimes ever perpetrated. I visited the Shuar of the Ecuadorian Amazon after my company, MathSoft went public in 1993. I was VP of Sales and Marketing. I worked for great people and I learned how to practice right livelihood. Yet in the rain forest, Shaman Tunduama helped me to experience reasons to live in addition to making money. Indigenous people in the Amazon will NEVER stop fighting Chevron. The author of the article in the link above describes
“…the modus operandi of Mastro and the litigation team at Gibson Dunn. Mastro and his teammates brag to scandal-plagued corporations about their uncanny ability to mount “rescue” operations. (The motto of the firm: “When the law is in the way, we change the law.”)
All it takes is Big Money for Big Law to do the bidding of Big Oil and Big Taxi.
Because I’m representing myself, I have limitless time and resources to fight Randy, Anne and Andrew.
…however, if any of you have a bit more expertise, I sure would appreciate your help…
Posted on January 19, 2016 by Gordon Gossage
On January 19, 2016, Lawrence Meyers threatened me physically online while I was in the hospital recovering from life-threatening surgery.
Excerpts from my posts within this article:
…Readers: I just need to post this detail to have a contemporaneous record of exchanges. Sorry…At Day 21 in the hospital, I have no idea when I will be discharged.
Larry, your employer and clients: If you think my hospitalizations are funny, I’m not surprised because I know what moral compass you guys use to make money. Any other reader: If you think my hospitalizations are funny and/or relevant to analyzing the quality of TAXI as an investment please post why. [Note on a later date than this post, Murstein changed the ticker symbol from MFIN to TAXI in an attempt to position Medallion Financial as a “specialty lender” financing a set of varying assets]
Just click on the poster name in the TAXI thread to analyze comments by “dgseinvestor” or any poster on any thread. Larry and other posters for Larry’s employer have used the name “dgseinvestor” for 113 posts between June 14, 2007 and January 18, 2016 on Yahoo Finance Message boards to promote TAXI, DGSE and other predatory lenders and pawn shop buyers for many years. Remember, besides lending to immigrants who can’t afford the medallion loans, TAXI provides funds to borrowers who can’t buy boats and RVs from traditional lenders.
Dallas Gold and Silver Exchange (DGSE) is a chain of pawn shops that buy gold, silver, watches and jewelry from desperate sellers. They were one of the first segment players opening up Internet pawn shops. Here’s an article on DGSE:
DGSE Offers A Gold Play Without Gold’s Volatility By Larry Meyers of PDL Capital (abbreviation of Pay Day Lending)
Welcome to the world of Black Hat Social Media Stock Promotion version 2016. TAXI is a predatory lender specializing in taxi medallions, boats and RV’s. Gentlemen call it sub-prime and hard money lending. As you saw watching The Big Short, no one was jailed for securities fraud and predatory lending to borrowers who lenders KNEW shouldn’t borrow the money. Don’t let Big Taxi get away with it.
Yes, Lawrence “Larry” Meyers: Give thanks to your employer that he keeps up on my Facebook account no matter what access level I’ve set. Black hat social media techniques to stifle stock critics have no boundaries either in scope or morality. Tell your employer for the zillionth time: you can’t blackmail a stock critic if he has nothing to hide!!!!!! Got it yet???
Excerpts from posts by Lawrence Meyers within this article published on January 19, 2016:
…Poor Gordon! Hospitalized on 12/29. Apparently, he has not had a stomach, gall bladder or spleen for many months. Maybe all the stress from his nonsense campaign did him in…
[Pretending to be me:] All I can do from my hospital bed is scream at the world. I have no stomach. I cannot fill it with yummy things to eat. Do not laugh at me. Get off my lawn…If you think being arrested for securities fraud while I am in a hospital bed is funny, then you don’t know the meaning of comedy. It’s even funnier having a security guard stationed outside your room.
Posted on August 27, 2015 by Gordon Gossage in his blog, Boston Lyft Diaries
On August 26, 2015, Lawrence Meyers published a post including the content in quotes below, referred to in my email below sent on Aug 27, 2015 to Captain Maureen E. Ryan, Area Commanding Officer, Topanga Area Community Police Station. This email to the police was posted on my blog,
Subject: Responding to a threat allegation To: firstname.lastname@example.org Cc: email@example.com, PDLCapital66@gmail.com
… “Gordon issued a threatening letter insinuating he would harm me and my family.” Seven hours later the following post was published: “Gordon Gossage’s letter is being held as evidence for law enforcement.”
I’m not sure what law enforcement agency is being referenced by Mr. Meyers. I’m extremely concerned that I’ve been publicly accused of this serious crime despite the fact that I never sent Mr. Meyers any communication he describes. Therefore, I would be very grateful if you could request a copy of this alleged letter described from Mr. Meyers so that I can establish to you whether or not these statements by Mr. Meyers are truthful.
No further action about this false accusation against me was made by Lawrence Meyers to the LAPD.
Posted on December 3, 2015 by Gordon Gossage in his blog, Boston Lyft Diaries
…Lawrence “Larry” Meyers is a professional stock promoter. Meyers just smeared Jordan Wathen, the author of a negative article on Medallion Financial (TAXI) and Signature Bank (SBNY) on Motley Fool…
I sent the email below to a friend time stamped:
Sun, Jul 19, 2020, 12:55 PM
I didn’t know about this article until you sent it to me. It has a lot of similar content to emails sent to all seven Reno City Councilmembers on December 13, 2018, early in my interaction with them. They forwarded to Mike Kazmierski, CEO of EDAWN. Councilmembers were aware I knew Mike well, because he paid me to co-create an EDAWN event with 300+ attendees.
Mike gave it to me. I sent emails to all 7, asking if they had any questions about it. I was told to just let it go and not worry about it.
The author is almost certainly Larry Meyers, a professional stock promoter doing extensive work for the taxi industry in New York, Chicago, and Boston. Before that he demonstrated his results promoting publicly traded pay day lenders, including companies with Caribbean operations. He also promoted and defended a company, Force Field Energy. The CEO was arrested while boarding a plane to Costa Rica by agents from the Southern District of NY. They cover Wall Street and other white-collar crime. Giuliani ran it before being mayor.
Larry’s campaigns also included intimidating stock analysts criticizing his clients online. He does this by using private investigators digging up compromising personal information.
I very publicly destroyed his career. He is really, really pissed off at me, as are his former employers. By convincing low information stockholders to dump their stock I caused his employers to lose tens of millions of dollars.
I also convinced many taxi owner/operators to default on their loans from these guys, because I knew the circumstances in which they wouldn’t pursue them. This is the period when Uber destroyed $20 billion of value in taxi medallions in the three cities. In the end they traded at 3% of that peak value.
I forwarded my activity consistently to the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office handling stock fraud.
My goal was social justice for taxi drivers, most undocumented, who were the most horrible collateral damage from Uber’s rise.
Uber was sued by the big taxi company owners in Boston who treat these drivers like slaves.
I described my work under oath to Uber’s attorneys at Cooley LLP with hours of testimony and 1100 pages of my investigative documentation. In 2014 and 2015, I earned a total of $30,000 from Oleg Uritsky, a taxi company owner betting against his former industry after I suggested he do so in my blog. I knew of him because he was one of the only people in his industry who predicted what Uber would do to it.
I drove for Uber and Lyft beginning in 2013 in Boston and later in Reno. I gave over 5,000 rides. Like my four months working on the night shift on the Tesla assembly line, my goal is to mobilize the working class.
The document you have was posted with a fake byline. You can see the email purported to be from me is not date and time stamped. It’s 100% made up. As you can see, some of the information is true and well-documented, but is not related to my activity….
… I was involved in research on the Russian-backed medallion taxi industry 2014 through 2018. It might be best to read the posts below first. Then I can review the tactics used by these folks. They are very serious and skillful criminals. Michael Cohen, Trump’s lawyer, was a creature of this world…. I’ve been very open about my lessons from the 1980’s. In my public comments about homelessness at Reno City Council, I’ve been very clear about being clean and sober for 32 years and what my life was like before then.
The Medium article referred to in my July 19, 2020 email above is here:
By Steph Cat [This name was used once – only for this article]
November 6, 2019
Early articles by me and Jay Hickman follow
Includes description of the report below by Jay Hickman published on December 18, 2014 with my contributions. In addition, excerpts below are from an article profiling our report in the Washington Post, published the next day December 19, 2014. Emily Badger, the author, received an advance copy of the report. She is now a journalist with The New York Times.
By Jay Hickman
Gordon Gossage contributed to this report
December 18, 2014
This link goes to the in-depth 38-page article that was the first publication by us about Medallion Financial on an online investment site. Following the article, the document contains 49 pages of extensive conversations including posts by Lawrence Meyers using his real name and other critics of our analysis.
By Emily Badger
The Washington Post
December 19, 2014
Posted on July 6, 2015 by Gordon Gossage
There are massive amounts of more content in my blog, Boston Lyft Diaries, and in Seeking Alpha, TheStreet, The Motley Fool, Yahoo Finance, and other investment sites.
If you have any questions about the content above, please contact me any time.