News and Press Releases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

TUESDAY - September 14, 2010

WOMAN PLEADS GUILTY TO CUMBERLAND COUNTY

REAL ESTATE SCHEME

GREENVILLE - United States Attorney George E.B. Holding announced that in federal court today LYNDA S. STEELE, 37, pled guilty before United States Magistrate Judge David W. Daniel to wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343.

A Criminal Information was filed on July 29, 2010.

According to the investigation, STEELE, doing business as JP & Associates Investment Firm, represented herself as someone who purchased properties for investment, fixed them up, and “flipped” them for a profit. In portraying even basic facts about herself to investors, STEELE often made misrepresentations, claiming that she was a licensed CPA when she had not graduated from college, that she was widowed because her husband died in the Army when she was actually divorced, and that she owned Family First–a Mortgage Brokerage owned and operated by others. STEELE represented to her investors that she would use their funds to purchase real estate in their names that could be held and then later resold at a profit. In reality, STEELE did not purchase the real estate, rather she frequently spent the money on other purchases such as renovation of her office space, payroll for a company owned by her boyfriend, and payment to past investors.

“While this office will remain committed to prosecuting fraudulent schemes, the best defense is for everyone to be proactive and remain vigilant. When investing money, check the background of the person and the company before you give them your money,” warned Mr. Holding. “And if something sounds amiss or to good to be true, it probably is.”

"Every year, fraudulent schemes victimize individuals and businesses from many walks of life. Innocent people are financially devastated by the actions of greedy people,"said Jeannine A. Hammett, Special Agent in Charge, IRS-Criminal Investigation Division."This investigation shows IRS Criminal Investigations committed to not allowing those responsible to gain financially from their fraud."

The maximum penalty for the wire fraud charge is up to 20 years’ imprisonment followed by up to three years’ supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. Investigation of this case was conducted by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division and the Fayetteville Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney David Bragdon represented the government.

News releases are available on the U. S. Attorney’s web page at www.usdoj.gov/usao/nce within 48 hours of release.

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