(Bloomberg) -- A former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. banker testified her mind was “blown” when she realized the person she was talking to on a 2021 phone call arranged by Ozy Media Inc. Chief Executive Officer Carlos Watson was using a voice-altering device. That deceit led Goldman to cancel a planned $35 million investment.

“I instantly heard a voice that did not sound like a human voice,” the banker, Allison Berardo, testified Thursday at Watson’s fraud trial in Brooklyn, New York. “The person was obviously using a voice-modifying device. I’d never heard a voice like that in my life and it was unexpected.”

Watson had told Goldman that YouTube was one of Ozy’s “most important” clients, and urged Berardo to get on the phone with senior YouTube executive Alex Piper, she said. But the person on the phone that day in February 2021 wasn’t Piper. It was Ozy Chief Operating Officer Samir Rao.

Watson is accused of conspiring to defraud investors out of tens of millions of dollars. Ozy, a once high-flying media startup backed by Marc Lasry, was sent into tailspin after the New York Times reported about Rao’s impersonation in 2021. 

Last week, Rao told jurors that he and Watson, desperate to win Goldman’s investment, decided he’d pose as Piper to fool Goldman into thinking the failing media company was profitable. Rao said he called Berardo using a voice-altering app to conceal his identity.

‘WTF Is This?’

Jurors were shown text messages Berardo exchanged with her colleague Hillel Moerman during the call, including one in which Moerman wrote “OMG” and Berardo replied “WTF is this?”

Asked by a prosecutor what she meant, Berardo said, “Because my mind is just entirely blown. I’ve done hundreds of calls like this and never experienced anything like it in my life.”

Rao, who’s pleaded guilty and is cooperating with the US, testified that while Ozy boasted it had a huge audience for its website, newsletters and videos, the company struggled to stay afloat. While Ozy told Goldman that it had booked $5.71 million in revenue from YouTube, Rao said the real number was “zero.” 

After the call, Berardo said, she went on a “major manhunt” to locate and speak to the real Alex Piper. When she reached him, he told her, “I didn’t speak to you today,” she said. Berardo said Piper told her YouTube had “no contractual relationship with Ozy — zero.”

When the bankers asked Watson, Berardo said, he “blamed it on Samir.”

Berardo said Goldman “killed” the deal, explaining the information which Ozy provided the investment bank was “a lie.” 

Watson has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy and securities fraud and denies wrongdoing. His lawyer, Ronald Sullivan has argued Rao was “crooked” and got a “sweetheart deal” from prosecutors. 

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