LOS ANGELES – A San Bernardino County woman has pleaded guilty to a federal criminal charge for her involvement in an investment fraud scheme that caused more than $2.6 million in losses to investors, the Justice Department announced today.
Sharief Deona McDowell, 57, of Loma Linda, pleaded guilty Tuesday afternoon to one count of wire fraud.
According to her plea agreement, McDowell defrauded at least 28 investors by falsely representing that she would invest their money in commodity futures and options contracts. In reality, 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.
United States District Judge André Birotte Jr. scheduled a March 10, 2023 sentencing hearing, at which time McDowell will face a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.
The FBI is investigating this case.
Assistant United States Attorney Byron R. Tuyay of the Riverside Branch Office and Trial Attorney Lauren Archer of the Justice Department Criminal Division’s Fraud Section are prosecuting this case.