BULLETIN: Feds Seek Information From Victims Of ‘Achieve Community’ Scam

achievelogoBULLETIN: (2nd updated 8:54 p.m. EDT U.S.A.) The office of Acting U.S. Attorney Jill Westmoreland Rose of the Western District of North Carolina has published a webpage for victims of the “Achieve Community” scam. Victims are asked to “submit information concerning the amount of your losses to the U.S. Probation Office,” which is compiling a “presentence” report on convicted Achieve Ponzi- and pyramid scammer Kristine Louise Johnson.

Achieve participants know her as Kristi Johnson.

Directions on how to submit information are provided on the victims’ site.

From a statement by prosecutors on the victims’ page (italics added):

United States v. Kristine Louise Johnson

Troy Barnes and Kristine Johnson operated a fraudulent Pyramid/Ponzi scheme through Work With Troy Barnes, Inc. (WWTB), an entity they founded and which did business as “The Achieve Community” (TAC). Between April 2014 and February 2015 TAC generated more than $6.8 million. Through online video blogs and written promotional materials on the website, both Barnes and Johnson enticed victim-investors to buy “positions” in TAC and earn extraordinary investment returns of 700 percent. More than 10,000 people invested. Barnes and Johnson repeatedly assured listeners who bought $50 “positions” that they would “cycle” through the matrix and receive $400 in return for each $50 position. There was no requirement that investors do anything. Success depended entirely on sufficient new investors to “retire” early investors positions. The scheme ended when the SEC executed a temporary restraining order (TRO) on February 13, 2015. When it was forced to cease operations due to the TRO, TAC had $2.6 million on deposit but owed more than $50 million to investors.

The defendant, Kristine Johnson, pled guilty on June 30, 2015 and was released on bail. The case is in the presentence stage of the criminal justice process. The United States Probation Office has been assigned to complete a presentence report.

Johnson, 60, of Aurora, Colo., was charged criminally in June after an investigation by the U.S. Secret Service. She was sued by the SEC in February. Barnes, 52, of Riverview, Mich.,  is a co-defendant in the SEC’s civil case and has said he faces criminal prosecution.

Achieve was a Ponzi-board scam that also spread on social media. The reach potentially created thousands of victims. When online scams cast a wide net, it potentially can led to sentencing enhancements.

Such enhancements can be applied in federal cases if it is determined vulnerable victims were involved. It is known that an elderly woman who called into an Achieve sales pitch online had an 86-year-old husband who had been confined to a nursing home.

The deadline for submitting a victim-impact statement is Aug. 21. More information is available here.

To visit the Achieve victims’ website, go here. The body copy on the page includes two links through which to submit information.

Prosecutors say victims may entitled to restitution as ordered by the court.

When the SEC shut down Achieve in February, the “program had “$2.6 million on deposit but owed more than $50 million to investors,” prosecutors said.

“Success depended entirely on sufficient new investors to ‘retire’ early investors positions,” prosecutors said about the “cycler”scam.

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