LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A man who authorities believe has fled to Russia to avoid prosecution is named in federal indictments that allege a multimillion-dollar fraud scheme.
Mykalai Kontilai — aka Michael Contile — is known to have lived in Las Vegas and New York, according to a news release from the US Attorney’s Office. Warrants are out for Kontilai’s arrest.
Kontilai is listed as the CEO of Collectors Cafe, an online auction portal. He had previously been implicated by an SEC complaint of trying to supress investor complaints by violating whistleblower protection laws.
In a case involving indictments in Nevada, New York and Colorado, authorities allege Kontilai is behind an investment fraud scheme in which he misappropriated $6.1 million, manufactured evidence to mislead investigators, and concealed the proceeds of his scheme from the IRS.
A sealed grand jury indictment on June 3, 2020, in the District of Nevada charges Kontilai with one count of securities fraud, six counts of wire fraud, six counts of laundering of money instruments, one count of money transaction in property derived from specified unlawful activity, and four counts of willful failure to file tax returns.
Individuals who believe that they may be a victim in this case should contact the FBI’s Las Vegas Field Office.
Kontilai lured investors into giving him money to start an e-commerce auction business from 2012 through 2018, according to the US Attorney’s Office, District of Nevada. Kontilai told investors he invested millions of dollars of his own money in the business and was not taking “a dime of salary.”
Prosecutors say Kontilai led bank officials to believe that money he withdrew was for business purposes when in fact it was for himself. He allegedly withdrew $770,000 in cash from a company bank account and used investor funds to purchase a Cadillac with the vanity tag, “MYKALAI,” and to pay for private school tuition and rent on luxury homes throughout the country.
Kontilai is also charged with failing to file tax returns for tax years 2015 through 2018 when he was engaged in this scheme.
An indictment from the District of Colorado alleges one count of conspiracy to obstruct proceedings, two counts of obstruction of proceedings, one count of tampering with documents, and two counts of false statements.
Authorities say an altered bank statement showed the company’s account with a balance of $4,999,065, when the actual balance at the time was $935.
This case was investigated by the Las Vegas Field Offices of the FBI and IRS Criminal Investigation Division with assistance from the Washington and New York Field Offices of the FBI.
Trial Attorney Emily Scruggs of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Tony Lopez of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Nevada are prosecuting the case.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado, the Justice Department’s Tax Division, and the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs also provided assistance.