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Woman accused of Ponzi scheme

FBI arrests a Pasadena firm's president who allegedly conducted a real estate scam.

May 15, 2008|Andrea Chang | Times Staff Writer

The FBI arrested the president of a Pasadena company Wednesday, a day after a federal grand jury indicted her on fraud charges, accusing her of operating a real estate investment scam.

The 11-count indictment, handed up in Los Angeles, charges Jeanetta M. Standefor of Altadena with wire fraud, mail fraud and money laundering.

Standefor, 40, and her company, Accelerated Funding Group, also were accused by the Securities and Exchange Commission of securities fraud in a lawsuit filed Wednesday in federal court in L.A.

According to the SEC's complaint, Standefor raised about $18 million from about 600 people in the Los Angeles area and in Nevada and Georgia from 2005 to 2007.

According to the complaint, Standefor targeted African American investors, who allegedly were told that they were buying "virtually risk-free" securities that would generate returns of as much as 50% within 45 days. The money raised purportedly was being invested to help save homeowners from foreclosure, the complaint says, but none of the funds were actually used that way.

Instead, following the pattern of a Ponzi scheme, some of the money was repaid to early investors to give the alleged scheme an air of legitimacy, while Standefor spent more than $1.9 million of the funds on personal expenses including her wedding and honeymoon, cars and home renovations, the SEC said in its lawsuit.

"Ms. Standefor unscrupulously tried to benefit from the pain felt by those affected by the downturn in the housing market," U.S. Atty. Thomas P. O'Brien said. "This case once again reminds us that promises of huge returns from investments should be thoroughly investigated."

Phone calls to Standefor's lawyer weren't returned Wednesday.

The criminal charges against Standefor carry maximum sentences totaling 180 years in prison. She remained in custody after an initial court appearance Wednesday.

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andrea.chang@latimes.com

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