California-based Scammer Who Defrauded Maine Investors Sentenced in Federal Court in California

Maine Office of Securities Participated in Investigation Leading to 12-Year Sentence and Restitution Order

GARDINER — Maine Securities Administrator Judith M. Shaw announced today that James Rivera, who was recently found guilty of scamming several Maine investors and dozens more throughout the United States in connection with a phony energy scheme, has been sentenced to 12 years in prison by a federal court.  Rivera was convicted on 10 counts of wire fraud and mail fraud.  In addition to prison time, Rivera was ordered to pay more than $1 million in restitution to his victims.

Rivera, who operated a green energy scheme under various company names, including “Apostles, Inc.” and “Almighty Wind,” solicited investors beginning in 2007 through word-of-mouth, telephone conference calls and internet webinars.  Investors were brought together by their shared religious beliefs, interest in multi-level marketing, and Rivera’s claims of integrity as a devoutly religious person.  He nonetheless failed to disclose that he had numerous convictions for fraud, and that while operating the energy scheme he was on bail awaiting trial on additional fraud charges.

Ray and Carolyn Thompson of Brewer invested $30,000 after viewing Rivera’s webinars and other information falsely claiming that his companies held patents on a completely new form of windmill technology.  The Thompsons and other investors also received technical materials which made the technology appear more viable than it was.  After attending a demonstration meeting for investors in Las Vegas, the Thompsons realized they had likely invested in a scam.  They contacted Maine’s Office of Securities, which worked with the FBI and federal prosecutors to collect evidence of the scam.

“We are gratified that Mr. Rivera received the maximum sentence recommended by the prosecutor for bilking dozens of investors, including the Thompsons and others in Maine, out of over a million dollars,” said Administrator Shaw.  “Rivera exploited investors by falsely claiming they could trust him because he shared their religious faith.  He was in reality nothing more than a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

Shaw stressed the importance of checking any investment opportunity and the promoter with state securities regulators, in addition to other research the investor may do.  “Mr. Rivera has been ordered to pay the victims more than $1 million in restitution, but sadly, often very little money is ultimately recovered in this kind of investment fraud case.  The safer course for an investor is to be proactive and to check out the investment with regulators before sending money.”

Shaw commended the Thompsons for coming forward to report their experience to the Office of Securities and for their ongoing efforts to educate others about how to avoid becoming victims of investment fraud.  “Carolyn and Ray turned their encounter with investment fraud into something positive, and their willingness to speak out has helped other investors avoid a similar experience.” 

Consumers may contact Maine’s Office of Securities to check an adviser, salesperson or investment, or for other information related to investing, by calling 1-877-624-8551 (TTY 1-888-577-6690), by visiting the Office’s website (www.investors.maine.gov), or by writing to Maine Office of Securities, 121 SHS, Augusta, ME 04333-0121.

FMI

The Office of Securities is part of Maine’s Department of Professional and Financial Regulation, which encourages sound ethical business practices through the regulation of insurers, financial institutions, creditors, investment providers, and numerous professions and occupations for the purpose of protecting the citizens of Maine. Consumers can learn more about the Department online atwww.maine.gov/pfr.

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