After a nearly year-long investigation, a Clarington woman has agreed to plead guilty to mail fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering.
Officials with the US Attorney’s Office say 65-year-old Donna Brown operated a classic Ponzi scheme, hitting 25 or more victims in their wallets.
“Over the course of the scheme, we’re talking about $31-million and over 800 investment accounts at the height of the scheme but it was a fraud,” said U.S. Attorney Ben Glassman.
The Department of Justice says Brown owns Budget Finance Company in New Martinsville, and for the past 10 years has lured potential investors by promising annual returns of between 8 and 12-percent.
They say she sent investors fraudulent quarterly investment statements and 10-99 forms, and had no substantial source to account for the investments. Officials say this is known as a classic Ponzi scheme.
Each crime has a maximum punishment of up to 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and three years of probation.
“The defendant in this case, Donna Brown, lived a life of crime. She dedicated the last 10 years of her life to theft, to lying. She victimized hundreds of hard-working, law-abiding citizens. She stole their hard-earned money. She violated their trust. She stole their retirements, and in many cases, stole their futures,” said Raymond Duda, Assistant Special Agent with the FBI.
If you think you may have been a victim in this case or would like to follow the proceedings, you can visit the U-S Attorney of the Southern District of Ohio’s Office at the website on your screen–or you can call at 866-532-9098.