Local Woman Wanted for Alleged Fraud - NBC 7 San Diego

Local Woman Wanted for Alleged Fraud

Bush, Coca-Cola, Murdoch alleged to be among targets



    Local Woman Wanted for Alleged Fraud
    Image of Catarina Toumei.

    A Rancho Santa Fe woman is wanted by New York federal authorities for allegedly faking ties to the Guggenheim family to scheme high-end corporations and social elite out of billions of dollars.

    Catarina Pietra Toumei, 45, whose LinkedIn profile says European Royalty bestowed her the title of “Lady,” is one of three defendants listed in a 165-page civil complaint released Monday that describes their alleged — and unsuccessful — attempts at investment fraud.

    The complaint alleges that defendants Toumei, Vladimir Zurvel and David Birnbaum pretended to be plaintiffs Guggenheim Capital LLC and Guggenheim Partners LLC, issuing documents with counterfeit Guggenheim marks that were identical to the plaintiffs’ in “font, type style and distinctive purple color.”

    Zurvel and Birnbaum were both arraigned Monday with Toumei still at large.

    Miami Police Department

    The complaint includes documents addressed by Toumei where she seeks business relationships with President George W. Bush and media tycoon Robert Murdoch on Zurvel and Birnbaum’s behalf with Guggenheim substituted as the men’s last names.

    At the closing of one document signed by “Lady Catarina Toumei,” it reads: “The Bush family is always invited to Manhattan where they will be a guest of the Guggenheims, at any time.”

    In another document, Toumei advertises the availability of $1 billion worth of rough diamonds “from the private collection of the Guggenheim family.”

    On over 20 occasions, the defendants called The Coca-Cola Company to request a dinner meeting with the corporation’s senior leadership, according to the complaint.

    Other attempts at “bogus, large-scale transactions” involved bank guarantees, crude oil and gold, the complaint alleges.

    It also accuses the defendants of cyberpiracy, asserting that Toumei registered the Internet domain name guggenheimadvisors.org on or about May 28, 2010.

    According to federal prosecutors, Toumei told prospective business partners she was married to John Ratzenberger, the actor who played the mailcarrier “Cliff Clavin” on the television show “Cheers.” The two were once engaged but reportedly never married.