Virginia Woman Sentenced to Two Years in Prison in Investment Scam
Also Ordered to Pay Over $321,000 in Restitution
Baltimore, Maryland - U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake, sentenced Elise Hameed, age 47, of Chantilly, Virginia, today to two years in prison followed by three years of supervised release for mail and wire fraud. Judge Blake also ordered Hameed to pay $321,500 in restitution.
The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein and Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
According to the stipulated facts presented during Hameed’s one day bench trial, in December 2005, Hameed approached the owner of the Holabird Park Apartments, in Baltimore, about purchasing the apartment complex. The owner gave Hameed a 45-day option to purchase the property for $8.025 million. The $10,000 personal check Hameed provided to the owner as a down payment bounced, and he demanded a certified check. Hameed then invited the owner of a limousine service that she had used to join her in the deal. The owner of the limousine business borrowed $7,000 from a friend and took a $3,000 cash advance on one of his credit cards to raise the $10,000 and obtain a certified check. Hameed and the limousine business owner began conducting their dealings in connection with the Holabird Park transaction under the name of the Tachimada Trust, and they formally incorporated under that name in Virginia on February 2, 2006. At Hameed’s request, the apartment owner agreed to extend the purchase option through March 26, 2006, but the sale never occurred and the owner subsequently advised Hameed and her counsel that the Holabird Park Apartments was no longer for sale, because he had decided to develop the property himself.
Nevertheless, between January 2006 and July 2007, using the name Mari-Elise Evans, Hameed approached numerous individuals about investing in the Tachimada Trust in order to purchase the Holabird Park Apartments, demolish them, and erect new condominium towers on the site. In order to persuade these individuals to invest, Hameed provided them with documents and photographs, through mail, Federal Express, e-mail and fax transmissions, and in person. These materials included misleading information about the location of the project, preliminary architectural site plans, and “pro forma” calculations of expected construction costs and project revenues that made it appear as if the project was ready to proceed. In addition, Hameed represented to potential investors that the project was expected to earn between $25 million and $27 million.
As a result of Hameed’s misrepresentations, she induced 20 individuals to invest a total of $321,500 in the Tachimada Trust, and subsequently encouraged those individuals to remain with the project by periodically assuring them that their investments were safe and that the project was proceeding as planned, neither of which was true. None of the funds were ever repaid to the investors. Hameed received $70,123.17 of the funds, and used another $129,527 in investor funds to pay an attorney the Tachimada Trust had initially hired in connection with the proposed purchase. Another $40,400 in investor funds were paid to the owner of the limousine business, but he maintained that Hameed still owed him an additional $45,000 for the use of his limousine services during the time of the scheme. Three other individuals who provided limousine services to Hameed were paid a total of $8,042.75. On August 1, 2007, Hameed withdrew the last funds in the Tachimada Trust account, $22,461.39, and closed the account, but continued to solicit new investors as late as December 2007, when she tried to persuade an undercover FBI agent to invest in the project.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the FBI for its work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorney Jefferson M. Gray, who prosecuted the case.