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Fake attorney–who worked in Astoria–found guilty of bilking clients out of $5 million

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Aug. 15, 2014 By Christian Murray

A former Astoria businessman who posed as a lawyer and investment adviser was convicted of stealing $5 million from his clients yesterday, according to the Queens District Attorney’s Office.

Mohammed Rafikian, also known as Mo Kian, of Westbury LI, lost millions of dollars day trading, and to he decided to start scamming clients of a law firm to make up for his losses.

Rafikian, who was the CEO of a financial firm located at 34-13 Broadway, decided to take on the identity of an ailing partner of a law firm that was located in the same Astoria building. Rafikian was familiar with the firm since he had done some paralegal work there.

Rafikian used that position—and misrepresented himself as an investment advisor– to defraud seven clients of amounts ranging from $63,000 to $3.2 million, according to the district attorney. The victims were duped between March 2000 and December 2005.

The victims included a cardiologist, a dentist, a bar manager, a retired disabled elevator mechanic, a NYCHA inspector, a painting contractor and a family friend.

In one incident, Rafikian stole $3.2 million from an individual who he promised a 26 percent return.  The defendant failed to provide financial statements to the client and did not return the funds when asked. The defendant, however, did send the client two bounced checks.

In another instance, Rafikian fleeced a client when he absconded with more than $900,000 that was supposed to go toward the purchase of a building in Astoria.

He was convicted—after a two-month jury trial– of one count of first-degree grand larceny and multiple counts of second degree grand larceny and counts of impersonation.

Rafikian faces up to fifty years in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced on October 16.

Rafikian was originally convicted in August 2007 on similar charges and sentenced to up to 50 years in prison.

He represented himself at that trial and appealed his conviction on the basis that he proceeded without counsel.

In September 2012, the New York State Appellate Division, Second Department, determined his waiver of counsel was not knowing and voluntary, and ordered a new trial.

Yesterday he was convicted for the second time.

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