Florida "Business Opportunity" Promoters Sentenced to Prison
July 7, 2005
Three Florida men have drawn prison sentences for their part in the sale of fraudulent business opportunities.
Steven Mishkin and Martin Geller were the operators of AmeriP.O.S. Inc., which promoted point-of-sale ("P.O.S.") terminal business opportunities. For a minimum purchase price of approximately $12,000, potential purchasers were told they would receive several P.O.S. terminals, and assistance in establishing, maintaining, and operating a P.O.S. terminal business.
The defendants falsely claimed that a business opportunity purchaser, known as a "distributor," would earn substantial profits when members of the public purchased products, such as pre-paid debit cards, pre-paid phone cards, and pre-paid Internet services, from the distributor's P.O.S. terminals, prosecutors argued.
Mishkin, Geller and others were accused of defrauding over 1,500 consumers, who invested a total of approximately $20 million in AmeriP.O.S.
William Judd was charged with engaging in a very similar type of scheme in connection with a firm called Global Resources, Inc. According to the charging document, Global Resources, like AmeriP.O.S., engaged in the sale of business opportunities involving terminals that featured various sorts of pre-paid products.
For a minimum purchase price of approximately $14,000, potential purchasers were told they would receive a pre-paid product terminal, along with assistance in establishing, maintaining, and operating a terminal business. According to Global Resources, a business opportunity purchaser, known as a "distributor," would earn substantial profits from commissions generated whenever members of the public purchased products from the distributors' terminals.
"These cases are part of a large group of fraudulent business opportunity prosecutions in this District and should serve as a caution to the public," R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, said. "Just because a business opportunity firm advertises on radio, television, and through the Internet, does not mean that the claims should be trusted by the public."
Acosta said his office has filed charges against individuals involved in seven different business opportunity scams. "But prevention of these scams is necessary as well. Consumers need to be vigilant and vet these firms before investing their hard-earned money," he said.
Mishkin and Geller were sentenced by United States District Court Judge James I. Cohn in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Mishkin, a resident of Hallandale, Florida, was sentenced to 81 months' imprisonment, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release.
Geller, a resident of Miami Beach, Florida, was sentenced to 78 months' imprisonment, to be followed by two 2 years of supervised release. Hearings to determine the amounts of restitution Mishkin and Geller owe have been set for August 12, 2005.
Judd was sentenced In a separate hearing before United States District Court Judge Patricia A. Seitz in Miami, Florida. Judd, a resident of Hallandale, Florida, was sentenced to seventy 70 months' imprisonment, to be followed by three 3 years of supervised release.
He was also ordered to pay $2,316,068.43 in restitution to ninety-five (95) victims. A final restitution determination will be made on September 1, 2005, to allow time for any additional victims to come forth.