Williamsburg Woman Sentenced for $1.1 Million Ponzi Scheme
NORFOLK, Va. – Patricia Means, 70, of Williamsburg, was sentenced today to 60 months in prison for orchestrating a Ponzi scheme through which she embezzled over $1.1 million from more than a dozen victims. Means was also sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $1,136,862.32 to the victims and the IRS.
Means pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering on June 13. According to the statement of facts filed with the plea agreement, Means is a retired investment broker who worked in the industry for over 20 years. Sometime around February 2009, Means developed an investment scheme to raise funds for developing a purported product called “Savvy Bag,” a handbag organizer. Means went to substantial lengths to make the investment appear plausible, including having a seamstress make a prototype, setting up a website, applying for a patent, producing bound and printed copies of a brochure containing marketing and advertising information, and sales and profit projections. Most importantly, though, Means gained and manipulated the trust of her investors. Ultimately, between 2009 and 2015, Means embezzled over $1.1 million from investors of Savvy Bag, spending over $900,000 on housing, casino trips, vehicles and other personal items. Means solicited various individuals, some of whom were friends for a decade or more. The majority of the victims who invested their hard-earned savings were retirees or approaching retirement.
Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; and Thomas Holloman, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Washington, D.C. Field Office, IRS-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Henry C. Morgan Jr. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian J. Samuels prosecuted the case.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 4:16-cr-29.