QCOSTARICA, via South Florida Business Journal – John White was sentenced in Miami court to five years and 10 months in prison, followed by five years of supervised release for his connection to a Costa Rica-based fraud scheme, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Wednesday.
White was one of 12 defendants charged in connection with the scheme. Nine have been convicted and two are not yet in U.S. custody. White pleaded guilty on April 29 to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.
White was ordered to pay $6.4 million in restitution. His attorney did not return a request for comment.
Between 2005 and 2008, White and his alleged co-conspirators caused people to buy into USA Beverages Inc., Twin Peaks Gourmet Coffee Inc., Cards-R-Us Inc., Premier Cards Inc. and The Coffee Man Inc., claiming that the investment would allow the buyers to sell coffee or greeting cards at stores. Potential purchasers were told that previous buyers were earning substantial profits, and that the companies had a track record of success, according to the indictment.
But the advertised returns weren’t coming in. In fact, the companies were receiving complaints from prior buyers and had only been in business for a short time, according to the indictment.
Each investment cost thousands of dollars, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Most people bought into the companies for at least $10,000.
At different times during the scheme, the companies used bank accounts and office space in the southern part of Florida including in Boca Raton, Davie and Miami. What wasn’t disclosed to the buyers: Funds sent to an address in the U.S. were forwarded on to Costa Rica and elsewhere, according to the indictment.
“The defendants in this scheme promised victims the American dream while knowing they, in fact, were being ripped off,” Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer said. “We will continue to prosecute those who would deprive Americans of their savings just so they can make a quick buck.”