Peter Tassiopoulos, the CEO of Sphere 3D, brands himself as a dynamic and visionary information technology executive capable of building real businesses. You can view his LinkedIn profile here:
The reality is a long ways off. In this post we demonstrate that he has associations with pump and dumps that had occasional criminal involvement.
Let’s start from the beginning.
Taylor Rand Inc.
According to George Chelekis, editor of “Hot Stock Whispers” newsletter, Peter Tassiopoulos is employed as Taylor Rand Inc.’s freelance PR spolesman as of April 28, 1995:
“Taylor Rand Inc. (Cdn:TRND) is expecting to make a major news announcement on May 8th, according to the company’s freelance PR spokesman, Peter Tassiopoulos. TRND’s chairman is in the process of making a substantial deal to boost the company’s share values. As a member of Zaire’s royal family, he shuns publicity and hype, of which both Peter Tassiopoulos and I, as gossiping Greeks, adore. Said Tassiopoulos, “We’re softening up the stock and have a lid on the publicity until May 8th.” I confirmed with Geoffrey Eiten, editor for OTC Growth newsletter, that Taylor Rand is poised for a substantial move upward. Eiten said, “They’re going to make a ton of money on this deal.”
Chelekis was also a Scientologist who would eventually settle a complaint with the SEC for failing to disclose payments from companies he was touting:
Geoffrey Eiten also had subsequent run-ins with securities regulators as discussed here:
Taylor Rand was a bulletin board traded gold explorer operating in Zairre. Its 1995 press release announcing a JV with the Country of Zaire is available here:
It was also apparently involved in mining gold tailings in Montana.
Things don’t appear to have gone well for the shares however. On June 25, 1996 the Company was renamed Sheridan Reserve Incorporated and the shares rolled back on a one for ten basis. During the tech bubble, gold went out of fashion so Sheridan was renamed to Nevadabobs.com Inc., then Nevada Bob’s International Inc. in 2001. It was back to mining (after another consolidation) when Nevada Bob’s became Loncor Resources in 2008, finally back in the gold business.
Peter Tassiopoulos is listed as the contact for all mail directed toward Playandwin Inc. in its February 14, 2000 registration filing to list on the Bulletin Board.
Playandwin is an interesting story. It was founded in 1995 by Peter Berney, a stock promoter, convicted felon, and convicted child molester, all covered here:
The early history of the Company is detailed here:
Interesting to note that Berney supplied a shell to career fraudster Michael Mitton.
By the time Playandwin was listed in the US (and Tassiopoulos’ involvement disclosed in its registration statement) Peter Berney was no longer officially involved with the Company, but his brother, Andrew, remained a large shareholder.
Playandwin’s law firm, Chapman & Flanagan, also had subsequent problems with securities regulators – one complaint regarding the manipulation of Exotics-Nevada is detailed here:
Most characters involved in Playandwin were of dubious nature, but Tassiopoulos was only tangentially involved, right? Well, in addition to receiving all of Playandwin’s mail at 155 University Avenue, Suite 501, Tassiopoulos was also a paid consultant for the Company:
The document, dated September 19, 2000 discloses that Tassiopoulos was engaged as a consultant to Playandwin and was paid 350,000 common shares, valued at US$0.875/sh or $306,000 total.
Apparently Tassiopoulos was of no help to Playandwin shareholders as the online gaming business was abandoned within a year, and the Company eventually merged with juice maker D’Angelo Brands Ltd. where it was subject to another pump and dump. D’Angelo’s President, Frank D’Angelo, would later describe the experience in a Globe and Mail report as follows:
Desperate for capital, D’Angelo tried to raise money on the stock market. He was introduced to a group of penny stock promoters who proposed to take D’Angelo Brands public through a reverse takeover of a shell company. Problems surfaced almost as soon as the deal closed. D’Angelo is reluctant to discuss the details. “I have the IQ of a gnat when it comes to the stock market,” he says. But he suspects his company was used as a vehicle for a “pump and dump” scam. He immediately moved to go private again, but the process took more than two years.
Peter Tassiopoulos liked the consulting for penny stock business so much he decides to do it once more with a company called Bach-Hauser, detailed in this October 1, 2000 SEC filing:
Tassiopoulos received 200,000 shares (valued at $0.355/sh or $71k total). He probably got the connection to Bach-Hauser through the law firm Chapman and Flanagan (which had issues with the SEC detailed earlier) as Bach-Hauser was also a client and as this stockpatrol.com report detailed, earlier filed an 8-K mistakenly naming Playandwin on the document, not Bach-Hauser.
Much like Playandwin, Bach-Hauser never went anywhere and investors were ultimately wiped out. The gory details can be discovered in the previous report. Tassiopoulos’ association with both companies does not reflect highly upon him.
Many investment professionals were tarred by their association with Playandwin and Bach-Hauser. One Canadian investment advisor was the subject of a dispute with IIROC over trading in the two companies (and Playandwin’s successor, D’Angelo Brands) detailed here:
Peter Tassiopoulos’ first forays in the public equity markets were not in the highest quality of companies (they appear to be exclusively heavily promoted bulletin board stocks) nor with the highest quality people (many have been convicted of securities violations). In Part 2 we’ll look into his management and executive experience in two additional companies, one public, one private.