Entrepreneurs Plead Guilty To Wire Fraud And Mail Fraud After Persuading Investors To Invest In Phony App
Business naturally involves a certain amount of risk and uncertainty. When investors invest money in a business that is about to launch a product, they can never be completely sure whether it will be commercially successful. It is not fraud if the people who invested money in your company lose money because customers are not as enthusiastic about your product as you hoped that they would be; it is just life. All successful business investors have had to dust themselves off after projects that turned out not to become profitable. If the business owners know that the product is never going to launch, or if the product is vastly inferior to how the business owners make it sound, however, this constitutes fraud, and employees of the business who knowingly participate in the scam can be charged with financial crimes. If you are facing criminal charges for your role in a shady business operation, contact a West Palm Beach white collar crime lawyer.
The Rise and Fall of Social Voucher
Between 2016 and 2018, Pinnacle Atlantic operated a call center that solicited investments in companies such as Social Voucher and Stocknet. Its employees told clients that Social Voucher was developing a mobile gaming app, but the app did not exist, and decision makers at the company knew that it would never be ready for launch. Paul Geraci of Parkland was the owner of Pinnacle Atlantic, and Gerald Parker was the Chief Executive Officer of Social Voucher. Other participants in the scheme were Michael Assenza of Boca Raton, who used the alias “Michael Grimaldi,” Ted Romeo of Pompano Beach, who used the alias “Ted Lamar,” and the married couple Paul and Cindy Vandivier of West Palm Beach, who used the aliases “Doug Wright” and “Madison Brookes,” respectively. Assenza and Romeo were employees of Pinnacle Atlantic, while Paul and Cindy Vandivier operated a different company that also sought investments for Social Voucher. By 2018, the defendants had defrauded investors out of approximately $3.5 million in investments.
An undercover FBI agent contacted Geraci, who persuaded the agent to invest $50,000 in Social Voucher stock, and investigators determined that half of the money the agent invested went to Geraci’s personal accounts. The FBI also recorded Geraci’s conversations with investors and co-conspirators.
Parker pleaded not guilty, but news reports did not indicate the outcome of the trial. Romeo, Assanza, and Mr. and Mrs. Vandivier pleaded guilty, but the Department of Justice website did not report on their sentences. Geraci pleaded guilty to wire fraud and mail fraud. He paid a forfeiture money judgment of $1.2 million and could face a prison sentence of up to 20 years.
Contact a West Palm Beach Drug Crimes Lawyer Today
Attorney William Wallshein has more than 38 years of experience, including five years as a prosecutor in Palm Beach County. Contact William Wallshein P.A. in West Palm Beach, Florida to discuss your case.