A Florida man convicted of heading up a massive "business opportunity" scam that fleeced investors to the tune of more than $4 million has been sentenced to 27 months in prison.
In addition, Stewart Pope, who headed the Miami-based Global Resources, has been ordered to pay $4,313,093 in restitution.
The U.S. Department of Justice says Pope was listed as the President of Global in the company's marketing materials, communications with potential customers, and disclosure documents. In reality, Pope's name was used to hide the involvement of Global's true owners and principals, who, among other things, had a history of selling various sorts of failed business opportunities, according to the complaint.
Pope's conviction and sentence brings to eight the number of individuals convicted in this scam that victimized over 200 people and caused more than $4,000,000 in losses.
Global promoted business opportunities to consumers across the country through television commercials and other media, touting the profits that could be earned by purchasing a Global distributorship, and urging consumers to call a telephone number that appeared in the ads. Potential purchasers were told that for a purchase price of approximately $15,000, Global would provide three terminals, numerous prepaid cell phones, and advertising material, and that potential purchasers would earn their investment back in approximately six months to a year.
Global salespeople told consumers that Global would find viable, high-traffic locations to place the terminals; relocate any terminals that underperformed; only sell distributorships in a limited geographic area; and provide ongoing technical support and customer service.
In fact, the government says the locations where terminals were placed drew almost no business and many of the prepaid cell phones did not work.
"We are continuing to prosecute individuals who take advantage of hard economic times by offering false hope to people looking for income," said Assistant Attorney General Tony West. "The lure of a business opportunity is the promise of a stream of income coming from kiosks, vending machines, automated teller machines, or other mechanisms for selling goods or services to the public. The problem is that the promises of good locations and potential profits are often completely bogus."
In addition to Pope, seven other individuals were previously convicted and sentenced in connection with the Global Resources fraud. Two of the principals of the firm, Richard Goodman and William Judd, were sentenced to 70 months and 46 months in prison, respectively.