Odessa Woman Pleads Guity To $5.8 Million Fraudulent Scheme
Today in Midland, 41-year-old Darlene Aurelia Bishop pleaded guilty to her role in a scheme in which she defrauded various individuals out of $5,854,701 over a six-month period, announced United States Attorney Robert Pitman.
Appearing this morning before United States Magistrate Judge David Counts, Bishop pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. According to the factual basis filed in this case, Bishop was the owner of several businesses in Odessa, including Ameritex Brokers, Paradize Funding, DarLin Enterprises, and JonDar Enterprises. Through these businesses, Bishop offered various “credit enhancement opportunities” through the use of Proof of Funds (POFs) letters. Beginning in July 2008 and continuing through March 2009, Bishop worked with several individuals affiliated with an entity known as Apogee Financial to obtain and utilize documents that appeared to be from a bank. Specifically, Bishop advertised the service of providing “leased funds” bank accounts, in which a client could “rent/lease” a bank account that was allegedly established in a client’s name, and then funded by an investor in any amount the client requested and paid for as part of the lease of funds. Bishop’s entire POF business model centered on the ability of clients to be able to use the POFs she sold them to gain entrance into a “private placement trading platform” that was exclusive to only those individuals who could demonstrate a high net worth. The POF was the tool designed to demonstrate, falsely, that high net worth.
By pleading guilty, Bishop admitted that she knew the POFs contained false information and that her clients had zero authority to withdraw any money from any such account or to borrow against the funds in the account. Furthermore, Bishop admitted that the POFs were being used to defraud other people and that she facilitated that further fraud. Bishop also admitted to using the money she received in this scheme to make several large purchases, including several vehicles and a $672,000 residence in Odessa. As part of the plea agreement, Bishop agreed to forfeit all of the cars and the money obtained from the sale of the residence.
Sentencing is scheduled for 8:30am on March 27, 2013, before United States District Judge Robert A. Junell. Bishop faces up to 20 years in federal prison for the wire fraud violation.
This investigation was conducted by the United States Secret Service. Assistant United States Attorney Austin M. Berry is prosecuting this case on behalf of the United States.