North Suburban Financial Adviser Charged with Fraud for Allegedly Swindling $2.5 Million from Elderly Clients
CHICAGO — The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago today filed a criminal fraud charge against a north suburban financial advisor for allegedly swindling more than $2.5 million from elderly clients.
LUCITA ZAMORAS owned a number of companies in Niles, including First Fidelity Financial Group LLC, JQH Ventures LLC, and Cornerstone Home Solutions. Zamoras held herself out as a financial adviser specializing in retirement planning, and targeted elderly individuals, particularly immigrants, according to a criminal information filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago. Zamoras falsely claimed that client funds would be invested in safe, low risk investments, when, in fact, she spent some or all of the money on personal and business expenses, including gambling costs, payroll expenditures, credit card payments, airline tickets, car payments, and utilities, the information states.
Zamoras attempted to conceal the scheme by using newly raised investment funds to make Ponzi-type payments to earlier investors, the charge alleges. Zamoras intentionally failed to disclose these payments to both the new and earlier investors, the information states. From 2009 until August of this year, Zamoras defrauded at least a dozen investors out of approximately $2.5 million, the information states.
The information charges Zamoras, 55, of Chicago, with one count of mail fraud. Arraignment in federal court in Chicago has not yet been scheduled.
The information was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Craig Goldberg, Inspector-in-Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in Chicago; Jeffrey A. Monhart, Regional Director of the Chicago office of the U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration; and Tanya Solov, Director of the Illinois Securities Department of the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office. Valuable assistance was provided by the Chicago Regional Office of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which previously filed a civil enforcement action against Zamoras. The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jacqueline Stern.
The public is reminded that an information is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Mail fraud is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.