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Agent Sentenced in $4M Ponzi Scheme


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Tuesday, December 13, 2016 — Brenda Ashcraft told investors she had exclusive access to properties in foreclosure and promised “a quick and sizable profit,” prosecutors said.


Instead, the Milford woman was operating a Ponzi scheme that officials say defrauded 34 people out of more than $4.2 million.


Ashcraft, a 46-year-old mother of two, was sentenced Monday in federal court to eight years in prison.


Among her victims were friends, neighbors, and the community of the Christian school that her children attended, prosecutors said in a memorandum filed in advance of the sentencing in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati.


“She continually pressed victims for more money, even when she knew that their personal lives were being ruined by this scheme,” the memorandum said. “Her penchant for lying borders on the pathological; her quest for money is unrelenting; and her behavior throughout the legal proceedings has been unrepentant.”


Prosecutors said between 2009 and 2013, Ashcraft operated the scheme through her company, French Manor Properties. Ashcraft told investors her relationships with various banks gave her access to properties she could purchase for a small amount.


Bank records show Ashcraft did not use investment funds to buy any properties, officials said. She used the money to pay back earlier investors seeking the return of their money as well as to support other business ventures. She also used the money for vacations to Cancun, spa treatments and Cincinnati Reds season tickets.


In 2012, she told investors she was traveling to Denver and San Francisco to meet with Wells Fargo officials. “They are awarding me exclusivity for Texas, Ohio and California… It’s big, baby. It’s BIG,” she wrote in one email.


Instead, prosecutors say she took her son and friends to see the Reds play in San Francisco.


Also according to prosecutors, Ashcraft often sent investors bad checks for returns on their investments. After FBI agents seized her iPhone to execute a search warrant, prosecutors said she sent a remote “wipe” command to erase evidence stored on the device.


Ashcraft even created a fake employee to handle investor complaints and sent emails to investors, and to herself, under the fake name, officials said.


U.S. Attorney Benjamin Glassman announced the sentence Monday. Ashcraft pleaded guilty last year to wire fraud, securities fraud, destruction of evidence and money laundering.


In a sentencing memorandum filed on her behalf, Ashcraft was described as “bipolar and delusional.” It said she suffers from “persecutory” delusions. Prosecutors, however, said an evaluation found no symptoms of mental illness.


To view the original article, click here: http://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/2016/12/12/ex-realtor-sentenced-4-million-ponzi-scheme/95339040/


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