Will Joel Wilson’s Racketeering Conviction In Michigan Ponzi-Scheme Case Send A Message To Apologists For Achieve Community? Saleswoman Also Convicted

ponzinews1There is no good state in which to run a Ponzi scheme, but Michigan and Colorado — the states in which “Achieve Community” operated — are two of the worst.

This is because both states have racketeering statutes that have been used in Ponzi-scheme cases. The case of Joel Wilson, convicted yesterday in Michigan on criminal charges of racketeering, selling unregistered securities, securities fraud and larceny, is one Achieve Community members can use to inform themselves.

Achieve reportedly is under investigation by the state of Michigan. It’s also under investigation by the state of Colorado, and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has filed civil charges that Achieve was a combined Ponzi- and pyramid scheme that gathered more than $3.8 million.

Alleged Achieve operators Troy Barnes of Michigan and Kristi Johnson of Colorado have asserted their Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate themselves. Criminal probes may be occurring on more than one front.

The office of Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has declined to talk about Achieve. But Schuette had plenty to say about Wilson and his investment company known as “The Diversified Group Advisory Fund LLC.”

“I am pleased we have secured justice for the victims who lost their life savings,” said Schuette. “Financial exploitation is a growing crime in Michigan, and we are cracking down on these con artists. Be skeptical of anyone who promises huge returns for a small investment.”

Wilson potentially faces decades in prison.

Fallout from the case was not limited simply to Wilson. A saleswoman also was charged criminally. She, too, was convicted of racketeering, plus embezzlement from a vulnerable adult, and seven counts of false pretenses.

The saleswoman, Shawn Dicken, 40, of Bay City, was sentenced last year to “to 11 years, eight months to 20 years” in prison, Schuette’s office said.

Achieve Community allegedly offered a return of 700 percent in as little as a few months. Promoters of the scheme parroted information put out by the “program” to draw recruits who’d help drive the “cycler.”

With Diversified Group, Dicken “failed to disclose the risks associated with the actual investment in question,” prosecutors said.

She also touted “guaranteed” returns, they noted.

That senior citizens were targeted led to the charge of embezzlement from a vulnerable adult which, like racketeering and false pretenses, is a felony.

Achieve Community largely operated over the Internet and is known to have recruited senior citizens. Internet-based schemes typically increase the odds that vulnerable people will be plundered.


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