Windermere CEO Pleads Guilty To Twenty-One Counts Of Wire Fraud, Money Laundering And Aggravated Identity Theft
March 21, 2014
Orlando, FL – United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces that Michael Rivers (56, Windermere) yesterday pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, eight counts of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, eight counts of money laundering, and three counts of aggravated identity theft. Additionally, Kim Rivers (46, Windermere) pleaded guilty to three counts of aggravated identity theft. Michael Rivers faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison on each count of wire fraud, 10 years’ imprisonment on each count of money laundering, and a mandatory minimum of 2 years in prison on each aggravated identity count. Kim Rivers faces a mandatory minimum penalty of 2 years, up to 6 years in federal prison.
According to court documents, Michael and Kim Rivers created an alleged international bank software company named Global Business Genesis, LLC, (“GBG”) that was headquartered in Orlando, Florida. Michael Rivers was the Chief Executive Officer and Kim Rivers was the Executive Assistant of that company. GBG allegedly provided wireless bank software to major banks in developing countries. This software would enable customers to transfer money between international accounts, as well as issue prepaid currency and prepaid credit cards overseas.
During the course of the charged conspiracy and fraudulent scheme, Michael and Kim Rivers litigated multiple civil state cases in the Ninth Judicial Circuit of Florida, a bankruptcy proceeding in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Florida, and a civil action brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida. Judgments were entered against Michael and Kim Rivers and the entities they controlled, in state and federal court. During the course of the charged conspiracy, the couple used investor funds to support their lifestyle, including obtaining a $114,000 exotic sports car, private schooling in excess of $230,000 for their children, and living in a home with a delinquent mortgage well over $2 million, all while delaying payments and putting off their creditors.
Throughout, Michael and Kim Rivers told state and federal courts, the government, creditors, and opposing litigants, that Michael Rivers had debilitating cancer and was receiving treatment in Argentina. The couple often claimed that Michael Rivers was medically incapacitated in Argentina and that, for that reason, they were unable to appear in court proceedings and at meetings in the United States. Those false representations were made via letters, e-mails, court filings and proceedings, as well as by representatives for the couple. During the execution of search warrants, law enforcement found items, including correspondence, templates, letterhead, altered documents, and computer files and images of signatures and seals that the defendants used to create and discuss the creation of the forged documents, which they used during the course of the fraud. Elements used to create forged documents such as attorney letters, doctors’ letters concerning cancer treatment, insurance, and documents from financial institutions and government entities were also recovered during the search.
On December 11, 2012, Michael Rivers sent an e-mail to Kim Rivers, instructing her and another co-conspirator in a ruse on how to portray themselves as employees of a law firm (“Fried Frank Law Firm”). In January 2013, Michael Rivers was in London, England, trying to solicit investors. After receiving some resistance from investors, he suggested they call “Fried Frank Law Firm” to speak with an attorney who could vouch for the authenticity of GBG and its license agreements. Michael Rivers called Kim Rivers who pretended to work at the law firm. Afterwards, another co-conspirator pretended to be a law associate at Fried Frank Law Firm and stated that due diligence had been conducted.
Victims confirmed that due to the ruse perpetrated by Michael and Kim Rivers, where they portrayed themselves as a reputable law firm vouching for the solvency of GBG, the victim and other investors’ fears were allayed and they subsequently wired nearly $1 million dollars during that portion of the scheme.
Michael and Kim Rivers also defrauded local investors in the Orlando area. From that scheme, they used money to obtain luxury automobiles, including a Fisker Karma and a Jaguar XK-R, Cirque Du Soleil tickets, and other lifestyle items.
This case was investigated by the United States Secret Service. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Christopher LaForgia and Daniel C. Irick.