By Brendan O'Brien
MILWAUKEE, Feb 2 (Reuters) - A Wisconsin woman has been charged with theft over accusations she tried to profit from Facebook's much-anticipated plans to go public by selling fake stock in the social media giant.
In a criminal complaint on Thursday, prosecutors said Marianne Oleson told acquaintances she obtained $1 million in stock because her daughter was an acquaintance of Facebook's founder, and persuaded several people to buy fictitious Facebook stock over a four-month period.
The Oshkosh woman was charged with 31 counts of theft, forgery and making misleading statements.
Facebook unveiled plans on Wednesday for the biggest-ever Internet IPO. Facebook said it was seeking to raise $5 billion, but analysts estimated it could tap investors for $10 billion.
The complaint against Oleson said one of the people to whom she was accused of selling fake stock was a contractor who did work at her house in September. Oleson paid the contractor for the work with $13,980 worth of fake Facebook stock, the complaint alleged.
The contractor, who also paid $10,000 in cash to the woman for additional stock, grew suspicious when he found she lied about her name and various oddities on documents referring to the transaction, the complaint said.
Oleson, 46, was also accused of defrauding a 66-year-old Oshkosh man who was suffering from a vision impairment. According to the district attorney, the man gave Oleson four checks totaling about $43,000 late last year to pay for Facebook stock.
The woman promised him she would send stock certificates in the mail, the complaint said. It also accused Oleson of selling fake Facebook stock to two other men for a total of $9,900.
An attorney for Oleson could not immediately be reached for comment. (Reporting By Brendan O'Brien; Editing by Mary Wisniewski and Peter Cooney)
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