VIDEO: MILLIONAIRE’S FRAUD TRIAL BEGINS- Wireless Toyz Owner Accused Of Violating Michigan’s Franchise Investment Laws
MADISON HEIGHTS, Mich. — The fraud trial for the founder of a chain of cellular phone stores has begun in an Oakland County court.
Joe Barbat became a millionaire after starting Wireless Toyz. Barbat is still in his 30s, is known to drive expensive cars and lives in an Oakland County mini-mansion.
But a number of investors said they were defrauded out of massive amounts of money and a number have sued Barbat for violating Michigan’s franchise investment laws.
The case brought by David Abbo of Colorado is the first to go to trial.
In court on Friday, Barbat’s attorney, Steven Cohen, denied the allegations.
“My clients are neither cheats nor liars nor did they defraud anyone,” Cohen told the court.
Attorney Normal Yatooma represents the plaintiff, who was allegedly deceived out of his money by Barbat’s actions.
“Outright lies, deceit and illegal methods to dupe my clients into investing hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Yatooma said.
Rod Kello is one of the investors claiming to be a victim. He talked with Local 4 Defenders about his plight.
“I’ve lost just about my life savings that I had, pretty much put all my money into this company. I’m pretty close to foreclosure on my home, kids’ tuitions, I mean you name it,” Kello said.
Kello said he thought his investments would make him money.
“They feed you all these numbers and all these lies and you find out a year later that they are all lies,” Kello said.
Sumil Rupani of Texas was another investor. He testified in court on Friday and later said his experience has cost him personally.
“Financially it’s been the worst thing I’ve ever gone through. I’ve lost friends, made enemies along the way. Family members don’t speak to me like they used to,” Rupani said.
The trial is expected to last four weeks.