A 44-year-old East Greenwich, R.I., woman pleaded guilty to charges that she scammed millions of dollars from her friends and neighbors by falsely promising them big returns on investments in her company and keeping the cash for herself, federal prosecutors said.
Monique Brady admitted Thursday that she used her company, MNB LLC, to operate a Ponzi scheme in which she received more than $10 million in investments and pocketed almost half, said Jim Martin, spokesman for Rhode Island US Attorney Aaron Weisman.
Brady pleaded guilty to wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and obstructing an Internal Revenue Service investigation, prosecutors said.
MNB specialized in maintaining foreclosed homes for resale and was frequently hired by banks to perform minor upkeep on the homes, such as mowing the lawn or changing the locks. The majority of these jobs were done for less than $1,000, prosecutors said.
But Brady told potential investors that MNB had received large contracts for full rehabilitation projects on homes in Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. Brady also told investors that large amounts of money would be needed to complete the projects, receiving investments of up to $80,000, prosecutors said.
Brady frequently requested and received investments from different victims for the same property, and she created fraudulent e-mails to foster the illusion she had the large-scale contracts. In the e-mails, Brady included the name of an employee of a national property rehabilitation company without that person’s permission, prosecutors said.
More than 30 investors were promised returns of 50 percent on their investments. Most ended up seeing little to no money.
By the time the scheme was discovered in the summer of 2018, 22 people, including close friends, Brady’s stepbrother, three Warwick firefighters, and an elderly man with Alzheimer’s disease, had lost approximately $4.78 million to Brady, officials said.
Brady would use some of the money from new investors to pay previous investors, a technique known as a Ponzi scheme, Martin said. Brady also admitted to telling investors to delete their communications with MNB after the IRS began investigating.
Brady remains in federal custody and is set to be sentenced Oct. 4, officials said.
Wire fraud is punishable by up to 20 years in prison, five years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000 or twice the profit. Aggravated identity theft is punishable by a two-year mandatory sentence and one year of supervised release. Obstructing an IRS investigation is punishable by up to three years in prison, one year of supervised release, and a fine of $5,000, prosecutors said.