South Florida Resident Pleads Guilty in Connection with Business Opportunity Fraud Venture
Employer Purportedly Sold Automated Teller Machines, Point of Sale Terminals, and Public Access Internet Terminals
WASHINGTON – Orlando Moncada entered a guilty plea in Miami federal district court to a charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, the Justice Department and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service announced today. Moncada, a resident of south Florida, worked as a reference for American Merchant Technologies Inc. (AMT), a Miami-based company that purportedly sold automated teller machines (ATM), public access internet terminals (PAIT), and point of sale (POS) terminal business opportunities to consumers across the United States as part of a fraud scheme.
AMT was in business from April 2004 until December 2004. According to AMT’s sales pitch, a locating company would place the ATM, PAIT and POS machines of AMT business opportunity buyers in high-traffic locations. The business opportunity buyers would, they were falsely told, earn profits when members of the public bought items from the machines or paid a fee to use them.
According to the indictment, AMT salespeople made materially false statements to potential buyers, including that AMT was a profitable business opportunity, and that a locating company would secure high-traffic locations for the company’s distributors to place their terminals. AMT salespeople provided potential buyers with the names of individuals who were purportedly successful AMT business opportunity owners, including Orlando Moncada, when in fact, such references were not successful AMT business opportunity owners, but were individuals paid by AMT to fraudulently induce potential purchasers to buy an AMT business opportunity. During the time period AMT was in business, these phony references, including Moncada, spoke to a number of potential purchasers of an AMT business opportunity.
"We are committed to vigorously prosecuting financial fraud, especially scams like these that prey on working people who may be down on their luck," said Tony West, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division of the Department of Justice. "Business opportunity fraud, including the use of phony references, can and does deprive innocent people of funds they have invested to start a business and earn a living."
Moncada faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, a possible fine, and mandatory restitution. He is the fourth defendant convicted who was associated with the AMT scheme. Walter Henderson, a manager at AMT, was convicted in 2007 and sentenced to five years in prison. Two other individuals who acted as phony references for AMT were prosecuted and convicted in connection with another business opportunity scheme in which they were involved.
"Business opportunity scams can be very deceptive even to those who seek to do their own due diligence," said U.S. Postal Inspector in Charge, Henry Gutierrez, based in Miami. "Using phony references like the defendant defrauds potential purchasers even when they think they are doing all they can to make sure a business deal is sound. We are committed to investigating and ending this type of financial wrongdoing."
Assistant Attorney General West commended the investigative efforts of the Postal Inspection Service, as well as the Federal Trade Commission, which previously brought a related civil suit and made a criminal referral. This matter is being prosecuted by trial attorneys in the Justice Department’s Office of Consumer Litigation.