FEDS: Six Charged with Multi-Million Dollar Nationwide Scheme to Peddle Fraudulent Stocks from South Florida “Boiler Room” Operation
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MIAMI, FL – Six South Florida residents were indicted by a federal grand jury on charges that they defrauded investors of approximately $21 million by falsely claiming that the investors’ money would go towards the development of a lucrative mobile gaming application that, in reality, never launched and generated no revenue. The fraud scheme operated out of Broward and Palm Beach counties, targeted victim investors across the country, and involved the use of telephone sales rooms (or “boiler rooms”).
Juan Antonio Gonzalez, Acting United States Attorney, Southern District of Florida, and George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Miami Field Office, made the announcement.
Gerald Parker, 78, of Juno Beach, Florida, Michael Assenza, 44, of Boca Raton, Florida, Paul Geraci, 45, of Parkland, Florida, Ted Romeo, a/k/a “Ted Lamar”, 62, of Pompano Beach, Florida, Paul Vandivier a/k/a “Dough Wright”, 61, of West Palm Beach, Florida, and Cindy Vandivier a/k/a “Madison Brooke” a/k/a “Madison Brookes”, 64, of West Palm Beach, Florida, are charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud. Parker, Geraci, Romeo, Paul Vandivier, and Cindy Vandivier are also charged with substantive wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. In addition, Parker, Geraci, Paul Vandivier, and Cindy Vandivier are charged with substantive money laundering. Parker, Paul Vandiver, and Cindy Vandivier are also charged with mail fraud.
According to the indictment, the six defendants fraudulently sold stock in a Florida company called Social Voucher.com, Inc. (“Social Voucher”) that was later referred to as Stocket, Inc. (“Stocket”). The indictment alleges that in 2013, Parker, the Chief Executive Officer of Social Voucher and Assenza, the Director of Technology, created Social Voucher to develop a mobile gaming application which was intended to combine online gaming and online shopping. Social Voucher was supposed to earn revenue from users of the mobile application buying products while using the application.
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Parker hired boiler room salespeople, including Geraci, Romeo, Paul Vandivier, and Cindy Vandivier, to personally solicit investors and hire other sales agents to solicit, offer, and sell shares of Social Voucher stock to investors via telemarketing, according to the indictment. All six defendants allegedly informed investors that their money would be used to develop the mobile gaming application. But Parker, as alleged in the indictment, paid kickbacks and undisclosed commissions of thirty (30) to fifty (50) percent of the investor funds raised by the boiler rooms for Social Voucher that were concealed from the investors. Geraci, Romeo, Paul Vandivier, and Cindy Vandivier sometimes falsely held themselves out to investors as employees of the company.
The indictment further alleges that the defendants made a number of other material misstatements to the Social Voucher investors, including failing to inform investors that Parker in fact used investor funds to gamble at the casino; concealing Assenza’s criminal convictions for securities fraud and money laundering and Parker’s civil securities fraud judgment; and concealing prior regulatory fraud actions against Romeo, Paul Vandivier, and Cindy Vandivier. At times, according to the indictment, Romeo, Paul Vandivier, and Cindy Vandivier used aliases or names different than the names listed on the publicly filed regulatory actions against them when soliciting potential investors or answering investors’ questions.
The six defendants and others raised approximately $21 million in funds from Social Voucher investors. At no point did the Social Voucher mobile gaming application generate any revenue or profit. An indictment is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
FBI Miami is investigating this case. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Young. Assistant U.S. Attorney Marx Calderon is handling asset forfeiture related to the matter.
The case is assigned to United States District Judge Rodney Smith in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Geraci’s initial appearance is scheduled on April 7, Romeo’s initial appearance is scheduled on April 9, Assenza’s initial appearance is scheduled on April 9, and the other defendants have not yet been scheduled.