SEC moves to serve Forsage founders via alternative service
The SEC has moved to serve three of Forsage’s four founders via alternative service.
Vladimir “Lado” Okhotnikov, Lola Ferrari, Sergey Maslakov all reside overseas.
Vladimir “Lado” Okhotnikov
As alleged by the SEC;
Okhotnikov is a Russian national believed to reside in Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia. He is the face of the operation, hosting many of its YouTube videos and appearing in interviews with lead promoters.
Okhotnikov regularly communicates with Forsage investors and promoters using Forsage and, recently, via Meta Force social media, YouTube and Telegram.
In addition, Okhotnikov has various personal social media accounts that he uses to communicate, including Instagram, FaceBook, VK, Telegram and Twitter. He also has his own dedicated webpage.
Okhotnikov has represented on his Instagram page that he is “constantly traveling,” and within the past two years has appeared to have been in Indonesia, Dubai, and Peru.
The Commission staff also obtained a copy of Okhotnikov’s passport during its investigation, which showed him to be a Russian citizen, but displayed no address.
Despite the Commission staff’s efforts to obtain it, the Commission is unaware of Okhotnikov’s current address.
However, he indicated in both his August 19 and August 22 Instagram posts that he was in Georgia, and shared those same posts on Facebook.
Likewise, he stated that he was in Georgia in an August 8, 2022 interview he gave following the filing of the Commission’s Complaint in this matter.
As alleged by the SEC;
Maslakov is believed to reside in Gelendzhik or Moscow, Russia. He has appeared primarily in Forsage Russian-language promotional videos.
The SEC obtained Maslakov’s email address and “last known location” from Foris DAX, the parent company of crypto exchange Crypto.com.
The account records received from Crypto.com indicate that Maslakov’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
The records further indicate that Maslakov accessed his account throughout 2021 from an IP address located in Moscow, Russia.
The Commission is unaware of Maslakov’s current physical address or whether he remains in Russia.
Moreover, the Commission was unable to obtain his physical address through Internet searches, subpoenas, or voluntary requests to third parties.
We believe him to be in Russia because he lists his location as Russia on his Facebook and VK accounts, and because he accessed his Crypto.com account from an IP address located in Russia.
As alleged by the SEC;
Ferrari, whose actual identity is currently unknown but who holds herself out to the public as “Lola Ferrari,” is believed to be a Russian national residing in Bali, Indonesia.
She refers to herself as the “goddess” of Forsage, and has appeared in a number of its promotional videos.
During the investigation, the Commission staff determined that Ferrari’s primary social media account is her Instagram page.
On this page, Ferrari promotes Forsage. She has also shared pictures and videos suggesting that she is located in Bali, Indonesia.
Despite various efforts to obtain it, the Commission is unaware of Ferrari’s current address or whether she remains in Indonesia.
With Maslakov in Russia and Lola Ferrari in Indonesia, service via the Hague Convention is out.
Georgia is a signatory, but because the SEC doesn’t know Okhotnikov’s address, service via the Hague Convention is ruled out there too.
As an alternative, the SEC is proposing service on Maslakov via email. Service on Okhotnikov and Ferrari will be executed via social media.
Specifically, the Commission seeks to serve both Okhotnikov and Ferrari via direct messages to their Instagram accounts and to also serve Okhotnikov by direct message to his Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Okhotnikov is still active on FaceBook, sharing his life in Georgia:
An August 25th FaceBook post places Okhotnikov in Borjomi, a resort town in central Georgia.
He’s also active on Meta Force’s YouTube channel, posting whacky conspiracy theories and excuses for why investor funds and withdrawals remain frozen.
Since being charged by the SEC, Lola Ferrari has made her Instagram account private.
In support of their motion, the SEC points out Okhotnikov at least is “indisputably” already aware of the lawsuit.
After the Commission filed suit, Okhotnikov directly responded to the allegations in the Complaint via a video message posted online.
Subsequently, he participated in an eighteen-minute interview on his Meta Force YouTube channel, in which he sought to deny the allegations in the Commission’s complaint.
Authorizing service upon a defendant via social media is especially appropriate where the defendant is demonstrably already aware of the
case against him.
Here, Okhotnikov already has actual knowledge of the lawsuit against him, making such alternative service even more warranted.
Ferrari setting her Instagram profile to private suggests she is also aware of the lawsuit.
The court approved the SEC’s request for alternative service on September 2nd. Later that same day the SEC confirmed service against Maslakov via email.
Forsage’s fourth co-founder is Mikail Sergeev. The SEC believed Sergeev also resides in Moscow, Russia.
I’m not 100% sure why Sergeev was excluded from the SEC’s motion, but I believe it might come down to being unable to confirm his personal details (email etc.).
Update 18th September 2022 – The SEC has confirmed alternative service on Lola Ferrari and Lado Okhotnikov on September 9th and 13th respectively.
Both defendants have till September 26th to file an answer.
Okhotnikov has gone quiet on social media since August 27th. There have been no MetaForce updates since September 1st.
Update 10th February 2023 – The SEC filed for permission to serve Mikhail Sergeev on January 31st.
The court approved alternative service on Sergeev via email on February 7th.
Article updated confirming service on Ferrari and Okhotnikov.
Article updated with news of alternative service on Mikhail Sergeev.
Oz, the update at the end of the article says 2022 instead of 2023.
I think I was looking at the update above it when I wrote the date.