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Press Release

Woman Pleads Guilty to $2.6 Million Commodity Futures Trading Scheme

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

A Southern California woman pleaded guilty yesterday to her involvement in an investment fraud scheme that caused more than $2.6 million in losses to investors.

According to court documents, Sharief Deona McDowell, 57, of Loma Linda, defrauded at least 28 investors by falsely representing that she would invest their money in commodity futures and options contracts. In actuality, McDowell did not trade with the investors’ money and instead misappropriated the funds for her personal use. McDowell also provided investors with fabricated trade confirmations and account statements to falsely indicate that their investments were generating returns. In addition, McDowell used money provided by new investors to repay earlier investors – a tactic often used to conceal and prolong Ponzi and other investment fraud schemes. McDowell had a history of defrauding investors and committed this fraud in violation of a prior judicial order.

McDowell pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud. She is scheduled to be sentenced on March 10, 2023, and faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada for the Central District of California, and Assistant Director in Charge Don Alway of the FBI Los Angeles Field Office made the announcement.

The FBI is investigating the case.   

Trial Attorney Lauren Archer of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Byron Tuyay for the Central District of California are prosecuting the case.

Updated December 14, 2022

Financial Fraud
Securities, Commodities, & Investment Fraud
Press Release Number: 22-1355