2 December -LAWFUEL – The Law Network – R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Enrique Gutierrez, Postal Inspector in Charge, United States Postal Inspection Service, announced today that defendant, Lon Finkelstein was sentenced for his involvement in fraudulent business opportunity sales.
Finkelstein was sentenced by United States District Court Judge Marcia G. Cooke to seventy-eight (78) months’ imprisonment, to be followed by five (5) years of supervised release. A hearing will be held on January 25, 2005, to determine the amount of victim restitution the court will order Finkelstein to pay.
Finkelstein was charged on February 18, 2005, with one (1) count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371, and one (1) count of criminal contempt of court, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 401. According to charging documents, Finkelstein engaged in the fraudulent sale of business opportunities through a firm called Perfumes Unlimited. Perfumes Unlimited placed advertisements on the Internet and in other media across the country, misrepresenting the profits that could be earned by purchasing a Perfumes Unlimited venture, and urging consumers to telephone a number that appeared in the advertisements. The potential business opportunity purchasers were falsely told, among other things, that: the average distributor earned over $100,000 a year; the worst distributor earned over $50,000 a year; and that the President of Perfumes Unlimited was a nationally recognized businessman. The defendant and others falsely represented to potential business opportunity purchasers that they could earn $150,000 or more per year. Perfumes Unlimited salespeople provided potential purchasers with the names of purported satisfied Perfumes Unlimited customers who, in reality, did not own any perfume racks and were paid to lie to prospective purchasers. Finkelstein and others fraudulently induced about one hundred fifty (150) consumers to invest as much as $1.5 million in these fraudulent business opportunities.
Finkelstein’s criminal contempt charge was based upon a violation of a court order entered by the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida in September 2003, in a consumer fraud civil case filed by the U.S. Department of Justice. Finkelstein violated the order, which banned him from selling business opportunities, by promoting and selling business opportunities for a firm called AmeriP.O.S.
Mr. Acosta commended the investigative efforts of the Postal Inspection Service. These cases are being prosecuted by Richard Goldberg, Trial Attorney, United States Department of Justice, Office of Consumer Litigation, and Special Assistant United States Attorney Stephen Gurwitz.
The Federal Trade Commission has additional information on its website that can be helpful in identifying the sorts of business opportunity firms that are fraudulent. A brochure is available at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/invest/vending.htm. Information on related topics can be found at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/menu-fran.htm.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls . Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on .