While most of us learned of Facebook’s planned initial public offering yesterday, Marianne A. Oleson of Oshkosh, Wis., has been allegedly selling shares in the popular social networking site since last 2011. Now the police have arrested her for fraud.
According to The Oshkosh Northwestern, Oleson was arrested after several men came forward claiming that she had offered to sell them private stock in Facebook. According to authorities, she claimed she owned $1 million of the restricted Facebook stock — shares that are not traded on public markets — because her daughter went to school with the founder. In an alternate story, she allegedly claimed she had access to the rare stock because her daughter was friends with the founder of Facebook’s girlfriend.
While some of us would be skeptical of this statement, or at least watch The Social Network to fact check the assertion, Oleson reportedly found at least four people willing to believe it. Authorities say she traded one Oshkosh man $28,000 in cash and concrete work at her residence for documents that appeared to be legitimate. Another man apparently gave Oleson $10,000 in October 2011 for stock certificates that Oleson said would be sent to him by mail. Needless to say, he did not receive the certificates. What each of her four victims say they did receive was a document describing the private stock offering — a document Oleson had received when she contacted OM Investment Management LLC, a legitimate owner of 65,000 shares of private Facebook stock, about purchasing $1 million worth of stock from the company. She allegedly took the share subscription agreement they sent, changed a few words and offered it to her victims as proof of her good faith.
On the day that Facebook announced its plans for an initial public offering, Oleson, 46, was charged in Winnebago County Circuit Court Wednesday with 33 fraud and drug-related felony charges and one misdemeanor drug charge. The drug charges arose when police executed a warrant and found a marijuana-growing operation in her house. If convicted, she will not only miss the legitimate Facebook IPO, but will also face 218 years, 30 days in prison and $418,000 in fines. Her bond is set at $50,000, and she is due back in court next week.