Nevada Woman Charged with $7 Million Advance Fee Ponzi Scheme and Obstruction of Justice
NEWARK, N.J. – A Nevada woman was indicted today on wire fraud, money laundering, and obstruction of justice charges related to a $7 million advance fee Ponzi scheme and obstructing the government’s investigation, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced.
Anna Kline, formerly Jordana Weber, 33, of Sparks, Nevada, is charged by indictment with two counts of wire fraud, 11 counts of money laundering, four counts of transacting in criminal proceeds, and two counts of obstructing justice. Kline is scheduled to appear before a U.S. District Judge on a date to be scheduled.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
From April 2017 to July 2019, Kline owned and operated several shell companies that falsely purported to offer lending services to customers, typically small business owners seeking high value loans, often in excess of $100 million. As part of the scheme, Kline required the victim borrowers to pay up to 5 percent of a potential total loan amount as a “fee” prior to the loan being funded.
After the victim’s “fee” was paid, Kline purported to conduct due diligence on the loans. During this period, Kline frequently gave victims bogus explanations for why the funding of their loan was delayed. It was also common for the victims to be provided with falsified or fraudulent documents, including bank statements that purported to show that the shell companies had sufficient money to fund the loan.
Kline and her significant other, Jason Torres, used the “fees” paid by the victims for their daily living expenses and other purchases. The “fees” were also used to pay back previous victims of the fraud, in the manner of a traditional Ponzi scheme. Torres is charged by complaint, and those charges remain pending.
Six victims have been identified with approximately $7 million being transferred to bank accounts controlled by Kline.
Kline was arrested on charges related to the fraudulent advance fee scheme in July 2019. While released on bail on those charges, Kline, through her then-attorney, provided the government with a PDF document that purported to be a portion of a Cellebrite report showing iMessages between Kline and Torres that appeared to show Torres making threats toward Kline and insinuating that Torres was primarily responsible for the fraudulent advance fee scheme.
A forensic review of the PDF document Kline provided to the government revealed that it had been falsified. Further investigation revealed that Kline presented the fake Cellebrite report to a family court in California as part of a custody dispute between Kline and Torres. During that hearing, Kline represented that the report had been generated by a forensic examiner named “Drew Andrews.” Investigation revealed that “Andrews” did not exist, but was actually an alter-ego of Kline’s that Kline used to deceive the California Family Court, her then-attorney, and a forensic expert into believing that the fraudulent Cellebrite Report was legitimate.
In addition to the fraudulent Cellebrite report, Kline also provided the government a computer that she claimed contained an iTunes backup that included the alleged text messages from Torres. A forensic review of the computer revealed that data on the computer, including the iTunes backup, had been manipulated. Kline changed, or caused to be changed, certain time stamps on the computer to make it appear as if the iTunes backup and other files stored on the computer were created in April 2020, when the fictional “Andrews” purportedly ran the fraudulent Cellebrite Report.
The wire fraud charges carry a statutory maximum of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. The money laundering charges carry a statutory maximum of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000 or twice the value of the property involved, whichever is greater. The transacting in criminal proceeds charges carry a maximum of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction, whichever is greater. The obstruction charges carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James E. Dennehy in Newark, with the investigation leading to the charges.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Torntore of the U.S. Attorney’s Cybercrime Unit in Newark.
The charges and allegations in the indictment against Kline and the complaint against Torres are merely accusations, and they are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.