UPDATE: Suspect Arrested Friday In Alleged Pump-And-Dump Scheme And Costa Rican Money-Laundering Caper May Have Link To Bizarre Underwater ‘Nation’ That Sells ‘Driver’s Licenses’ For $140
Jonathan R. Curshen, one of six people charged criminally by federal prosecutors and sued civilly by the SEC last week in Southern Florida in an alleged penny-stock, securities fraud, wire-fraud and money-laundering caper, once was a purported “consulate” to the bizarre, nonexistent nation of “New Utopia,” according to web records.
New Utopia was a fanciful “tax haven” allegedly dreamed up by Lazarus R. Long, an American who declared himself a “prince” and hatched a plan to form a “new country” that would “rise from the Caribbean on giant concrete platforms built on an underwater land mass,” according to filings in a 1999 case brought by the SEC.
Long also is known as Howard Turney. He invited investors “to become charter citizens of the new country,” the SEC alleged 12 years ago.
The SEC settled with Long years ago, and a federal judge ordered him to stop selling bonds and to pay $24,000 in disgorgement of ill-gotten gains. The penalty was waived because of his financial condition.
New Utopia continues to have a website — one from which a purported “Prince Lazarus” holds forth. Last month, according to the site, the prince ventured that 2011 would be a big year for the nonexistent state, which oddly claims that it is accepting preorders for a coin “Currently out of production.”
The coin is positioned as a limited “commemorative” worth 250 U.S. dollars. The site also solicits citizens to purchase the purported national flag of New Utopia for $80 and an “International Drivers license” issued by New Utopia for $140.
One of the problems with the flag and New Utopia driver’s license is that the country itself does not exist and holds no dry land even if it did exist. Indeed, according to court records, the nonexistent principality is said to be located undersea “approximately 115 miles west of the Cayman Islands” and would rise out of the water only after concrete stilts were erected and an above-sea base were anchored to a submerged land base.
Despite the bizarre incongruities, including the apparent assertion that New Utopia driver’s licenses are valid in all jurisdictions worldwide, citizens may use PayPal to purchase the items from New Utopia, according to the website. Other New Utopia trinkets, including a purported “ornament” bearing the likeness of Prince Lazarus, also are available from the purported nation’s online store.
“I would like on this most auspicious New Years day to thank our citizens and other well wishers for their support throughout our years of struggle,” Prince Lazarus reportedly noted. “It has been a hard and challenging effort, which will be soon justified. I am not at liberty to disclose details, but this is the year when the building of the infrastructure of our great City/State will begin.”
See earlier story on Curshen. See FBI new release on the charges filed against Curshen, Michael Simon Krome, 49, a securities attorney from Long Island, New York.; Ronald Salazar Morales, aka “Ronny Salazar,” 39, of Costa Rica; Robert Lloyd Weidenbaum, 44, of Miami; and Eric Ariav Weinbaum, 37, and Izhack Zigdon, 47, of Israel.