2ND UPDATE 8:38 P.M. EDT U.S.A. Kristine Louise “Kristi” Johnson, one of the two principals of “The Achieve Community” (TAC) Ponzi- and pyramid scheme, has been sentenced to 21 months in federal prison, the office of U.S. Attorney Jill Westmoreland Rose of the Western District of North Carolina said moments ago.
The SEC sued Johnson and codefendant Troy A. Barnes in February 2015. Johnson, 60 at the time of the SEC action, listed an address in Aurora, Colo. In June 2015, she was charged criminally with wire-fraud conspiracy and agreed to plead guilty.
Barnes, 52 at the time of the SEC action, was charged criminally later. He listed an address in Riverview, Mich.
By the time Achieve collapsed in February 2015, it owed investors more than $51 million, prosecutors said.
“[H]er conspirators and TAC had available only 4% or approximately $2.6 million,” federal prosecutors said.
Like many scams, Achieve was a Ponzi-board “program” that operated over the Internet and created thousands and thousands of victims with promises of absurd returns on the order of 700 percent. At least 4,000 of the victims lived outside the United States, prosecutors said.
The Johnson sentencing was the second involving a Ponzi-schemer in the Western District of North Carolina in the past 24 hours. Paul Burks of Zeek Rewards was sentenced yesterday to 176 months for his scam involving hundreds of millions of dollars.
Achieve hauled something on the order of $6.8 million.
Burks’ sentencing judge, Max O. Cogburn Jr. yesterday commented about “cheerleaders” for Zeek.
Achieve also had cheerleaders. One of them used the name of the SEC and its website in a bizarre promo.