New Jersey Woman Charged In Alleged $45 Million Ponzi Scheme; Antoinette Hodgson Faces Decades In Prison If Convicted
A New Jersey woman was arrested this morning on charges she fleeced more than 20 Greater New York investors by engineeringÂ a $45 million Ponzi scheme involving purported real- estate flips, the FBI said.
Antoinette Hodgson, 58, of Montclair, New Jersey, was accused of conspiracy and wire fraud amid allegations she recruited clients by telling them they were investing in her real-estate business, which purportedly acquired residential properties and then resold them at a profit or rented them before being sold at a profit.
In fact, according authorities, Hodgson spent “hundreds of thousands of dollars at casinos in Atlantic City and Las Vegas,” gave “tens of thousands of dollars” to family and friends and used investors funds to buy a Dunkin Donuts franchise in Arizona for $700,000.
Of the $45 million she gathered in the scheme, only $6 million went toward residential real estate. Most of the money was used immediately to repay investors in “classic” Ponzi fashion, authorities said.
“Antoinette Hodgson allegedly has already proved she’s a lousy gambler by losing the investor’s money in the casinos,” said George Venizelos, acting FBI special agent in charge. “She has now gambled with her future and faces serious charges for a plot of her own making.”
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who put his Complex Frauds Unit on the case,Â warned investors that high-dollar scammers are on the prowl for their cash.
“What Antoinette Hodgson allegedly promised to investors seemed too good to be true and that’s because it was,” said Bharara. “This case is a further reminder that whether the real estate market is up or down, innocent investors can be and will be targeted by unscrupulous fraudsters.”
Prosecutors encouraged victims and witnesses to come forward by contacting Wendy Olsen-Clancy, the Victim Witness Coordinator at the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. Olsen-Clancy can be reached at (866) 874-8900 or via email at Wendy.Olsen@usdoj.gov.
Here is the website for victims and witnesses:
The case was brought as part of the undertakings of President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force.
“The FBI will continue to seek out those who engage in all types of fraudulent real estate deals, bringing about certain justice for them and clearing a path for those who work hard to uphold the standards of our justice system,” Venizelos said.
Fraudsters “in every sector of our nation’s economy” are being pursued for prosecution, Bharara said.