A 68-year-old Texas woman has been charged with running a $500,000 Ponzi scheme.
Julia Ann Schmidt was indicted in Waco. She now joins a roster of other senior citizens recently implicated in alleged Ponzi schemes or convicted of crimes in which a Ponzi was the modus operandi.
Federal prosecutors said today that Schmidt posed as an agent for Fortis Investments.
Between April 2007 and May 2009, Schmidt “solicited money from clients promising to generate an approximate 30% return on their investments,” prosecutors said. “Schmidt informed clients that portions of their investments would involve the Texas Ranger Museum, Hillcrest Hospital and the Waco Riverwalk Project.”
Unsuspecting investors were fleeced out of more than $500,000, prosecutors said. The FBI is handing the probe. Investors who believe they were scammed by Schmidt are asked to call the Waco office at 254-772-1627, according to Acting U.S. Attorney John E. Murphy.
Some Recent Ponzi Schemes Featuring Seniors
Topping the list of seniors implicated in Ponzi schemes, age-wise, is Richard Piccoli, the alleged operator of the Gen-See Ponzi in the Buffalo, N.Y., area. Piccoli is 82.
Arthur Nadel, implicated in Florida amid allegations more than $300 million in investor funds went missing in a Ponzi scheme, is 76.
Andy Bowdoin, who presided over the alleged $100 million AdSurfDaily Ponzi scheme in Quincy, Fla., is 74.
Bernard Madoff, convicted in an alleged $65 billion Ponzi, is 71. In June, Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison.
Ronald Keith Owens, 73, was sentenced in January to 60 years in prison for operating a â€œprime bankâ€ Ponzi scheme that allegedly was set up in the Bahamas and elsewhere.
James Blackman Roberts, 71, of Heber Springs, Ark., was sentenced in January to 15 years in prison for running a $43.5 million Ponzi scheme.
Larry Atkins, 65, was convicted of swindling investors of $3 million in a North Dakota Ponzi scheme. In February, he was sentenced to eight years in prison.
Judith Zabalaoui, 71, was accused in February of swindling Greater New Orleans clients out of more than $3.2 million in an elaborate Ponzi fraud. In August, she was sentenced to eight years in prison.
Zabalaoui established a bogus entity known as Paragon Co., which actually was a mailbox Zabalaoui rented at a UPS store in Montrose, Colo., prosecutors said.
Part of the scheme was to call the mailbox a “suite,” prosecutors said.
Zabalaoui also set up a fake company known as Omni Clearing, this time using a UPS store in Dover, Del. Prosecutors said she invented â€œfictitious people,â€ claiming they were employees, fabricated emails using the names of fictitious employees, and she set up a phone, fax and email systems to help perpetrate the fraud.
She collected millions in the the scheme by promising â€œsafeâ€ and â€œguaranteedâ€ returns ranging from 13 percent to 26 percent, prosecutors said.
Read a prosecution filing on Zabalaoui.