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Three Women Charged in Diamond Bar Ponzi Scheme

Three women have been charged in a Ponzi scheme that apparently targeted mostly working people.

Maricela Barajas (aka Maricela Torres), 41; Juliana Menefee, 50; and Eva Perez, 51, have been arrested and face multiple felony charges of grand theft and securities fraud. Barajas and Menefee were arrested after one of their alleged victims reported them Walnut/Diamond Bar Sheriff’s Station of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Perez is already in prison on previous fraud charges.

The three women apparently gained the trust of their victims through their friendships and membership in the PTA (Parent Teacher Association) at the Armstrong Elementary School in the city of Diamond Bar. They told their investors that they had an exclusive franchise to sell Alta Dena dairy products at Disneyland and needed to raise capital in order to expand their business.

According to investigators at the L.A. County Sheriff’s Commercial Crimes Bureau, the suspects raised almost $14 million from 2008-2010 and returned about $10 million to the “investors.” About $2.5 million is unaccounted for and is presumed to have been used to fund private purchases, vacations, gambling, etc. of the suspects. The current estimated loss from the Ponzi scheme to the 40 victims is $1.5 million.

This post was published by a Nixle Alert from the L.A. County County Sheriff’s Department. The story is also published in the Diamond Bar Patch.

© Copyright 2007-2017 Monique Bryher

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