|Pictured Above: Eva Perez, Maricela Barajas, Juliana Menefee. Source: Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
Three former PTA members of Armstrong Elementary School in Diamond Bar were charged with 22 felony counts each of grand theft of personal property and securities fraud involvement this week. Maricela Barajas, Juliana Celeste Menefee, and Eva Perez were involved in a Ponzi scheme that defrauded around 40 people out of $1 million from 2008-2010.
These women used school events to find their victims and convince them to hand over their home equity or life savings to “invest” in an alleged business that they claimed was a product distribution company. The victims were told that they would receive 100% of their investment back. When the victims starting growing suspicious because they were not receiving their payments, authorities got involved. If these women are convicted of all of the charges, they face 13 years in prison.
A ponzi scheme is an investment scam in which people seek funds from investors and pay them back with the funds of other investors. These schemes are illegal since they are a form of fraud. Fraud is the intentional deception or misrepresentation of the truth with the intent to deprive another person of something that belongs to him or to cause him injury in some other way.
Being convicted of fraud can result in prison/jail time, fines, probation and can affect your reputation in the community. Therefore, if you are charged with fraud or a white collar crime, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney right away to assist you.