Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and William F. Sweeney Jr., the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced today the unsealing of an indictment charging MARYSE LIBURDI with defrauding investors out of more than $6 million through a technology company founded and operated by LIBURDI. The defendant was arrested by Italian authorities in Rome, Italy, in April 2016, and arrived in the Southern District of New York yesterday following her extradition. LIBURDI was arraigned this afternoon and the case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Denise Cote.
Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said: “As alleged, Maryse Liburdi repeatedly lied to investors in her tech company, telling them the company was profitable when it was in fact generating no revenue. Rather than using investor money to operate her company, she was allegedly spending it on herself and her family, paying for personal expenses like spas and salons, wine, luxury clothing, and rental fees on a three-bedroom Manhattan apartment.”
FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said: “We see this behavior time and time again–fraudsters intentionally misrepresenting a company’s financials to lure investors down a path from which it’s particularly hard to return. Today, Maryse Liburdi is charged with allegedly defrauding investors out of more than $6 million over the course of several years, all the while converting much of the money to her own personal and extravagant use. As long as this type of criminal activity continues to go on, we will continue to go after those responsible for it.”
According to the allegations contained in the criminal Complaint and Indictment filed against LIBURDI:
Since at least in or about 2008, LIBURDI perpetrated a multi-year scheme to defraud individuals into investing more than $6 million in a technology company (the “Company”) founded and run by LIBURDI. LIBURDI repeatedly made misrepresentations to investors about the Company’s revenue and assets, manipulated Company bank accounts to hide the Company’s true financial condition and, contrary to LIBURDI’s express promises to the investors, converted hundreds of thousands of dollars of investor funds to LIBURDI’s own use, including rent for LIBURDI’s Manhattan apartment and to purchase luxury clothing and other personal items.
While LIBURDI repeatedly told investors that the Company had millions of dollars in revenue, a review of the Company’s bank records shows that, from at least 2008 until the Company ceased operating in January 2015, the Company earned little or no revenue. Moreover, as reflected in the Company’s bank records, LIBURDI misappropriated investor funds, transferring over $1 million to her and her former husband’s bank accounts and to pay LIBURDI’s personal expenses, including luxury clothing. For example, LIBURDI used funds from one victim investor for, among other things, transfers to a personal bank account in the name of LIBURDI and her former husband; rental payments for LIBURDI’s three-bedroom Manhattan apartment; payments for personal credit cards; and substantial personal expenditures on corporate credit cards, including, among other things, expenditures at various retail clothing, accessories, and cosmetics stores, salons and spas, and wine and liquor stores.
In order to hide her scheme, LIBURDI manipulated the Company’s bank accounts by, on at least three occasions, writing checks for hundreds of thousands of dollars drawn on accounts with insufficient funds in order to fraudulently inflate the balance of a Company bank account and thereby hide the Company’s true cash balance from the investors. For example, in October 2013, LIBURDI wrote and deposited into the Company’s bank account a $700,000 check drawn on a different account that had a balance of only about $2,000. LIBURDI then falsely represented to the victims that the Company’s bank account held approximately $700,000 and showed investors a bank statement for the Company account listing the inflated balance.
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LIBURDI, 45, formerly of Victoria, Minnesota, and New York, New York, is charged with one count of wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. The maximum potential sentence in this case is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.
Mr. Kim praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI. He also thanked Italian law enforcement authorities, including Interpol Rome, for their assistance in the arrests, as well as the Department of Justice’s Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Rome and the DOJ Office of International Affairs.
This case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorney Elisha J. Kobre is in charge of the prosecution.
The charges contained in the Complaint and the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.