The Santa Monica Police Department has arrested a former Internet prankster on charges of stealing more than $400,000 from his company’s customers purporting to sell precious metals.
Cody Roeder was arrested Nov. 16 and later posted bail, but the SMPD said his charges stem from allegations he stole from several customers in multiple states.
The case began in June of 2022 when Santa Monica resident Ariel Levy alleged that Roeder defrauded an elderly family member.
Levy’s family was visiting and wanted to sell several gold/silver bars as part of his retirement plan. After contacting reputable dealers in Santa Monica, he found Roeder’s company, Freedom Shield Capital, on the Internet. After online contact, Levy and his family met with Roeder at his office in the 401 Wilshire building.
During that meeting, Levy said he saw immediate red flags with the process, but his family member decided to go ahead with the deal, and Levy secured both a sell order for the metals and a check for $ 208,000.
Roeder had Levy hold off cashing the check for three to four days while he authenticated the metals and wired the funds.
“Even though I had my doubts, we handed over all the bars and left,” Levy said. “It has been three days and no money has been transferred. I called and said ‘what’s going on?’ and he was like ‘Well, it’s taking longer than I thought, but I’ll send you a PDF showing the wire transfers I’m making.’”
Levy said he received PDF documents that allegedly showed the money was being transferred through accounts, but Roeder continued to apologize for the non-payment. Levy took it upon himself to investigate by contacting Roeder’s bank who confirmed the existence of an account for Roeder but said he didn’t have enough to cover the check. Levy also checked out Roeder’s office space and discovered it was actually a coworking site.
When Levy finally tried to cash the check in July, after several weeks of radio silence from Roeder, it rebounded and that’s when Levy contacted authorities.
Levy said Roeder eventually made an offer to settle any legal claims for $75,000 plus future payments, but Levy said Roeder’s history of non-payment undermined any confidence he might have had in a settlement.
Unbeknownst to Levy, other victims were also coming forward at the time.
According to SMPD, a second anonymous victim met with Roeder in July to discuss investing in the precious metals sector. The victim wired Roeder $90,000 and was told he would receive the metals in a few weeks. The items never arrived, and according to SMPD, Roeder cut off all communication with the second victim.
“It was later determined that there were several other victims from multiple states, resulting in a total loss of more than $400,000,” Lt. Rudy Flores said.
Flores said SMPD obtained a search warrant for Roeder’s bank accounts that confirmed $90,000 was wired into his account in July. After several failed attempts to contact Roeder at his office and residence, officers filed a felony complaint with the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office on two counts of burglary under false pretenses and two counts of elder abuse. .
Flores said Roeder was located in Venice on Nov. 16 and arrested.
Investigators then executed a search warrant at his residence in the 1400 block of Ocean Ave. and recovered several electronic devices. Multiple affidavits were written and sent to Roeder’s bank accounts.
Records show that he was arrested in the sheriff’s jail on $100,000 bond, and that he posted bail several hours later. His next court date is scheduled for Dec. 20.
Roeder previously ran a prank channel on YouTube which led to a lawsuit from In-and-Out Burger after Roeder was accused of impersonating the company’s CEO during a stunt.
Detective Kayondo for Crimes Against Persons (CAPS) is the detective investigating this case. Anyone with additional information regarding these incidents can contact him at 310-458-8937.