Given the high profile cases of Bernie Madoff, Scott Rothstein and Allen Stanford, the image of a Ponzi schemer is usually that of some rich white guy with a cigar hanging out of his mouth praying on already well-off investors, but not all schemers fit that bill. Marguerite Martial Jean, a 38-year-old Haitian-American woman has been arrested and charged with running a $3.5 million Ponzi scheme that targeted members of South Florida's Haitian American community and members of her church.
Authorities alleged that Jean used her two companies, MMJ's Warehouse and VLM Enterprise, to lure members of her church into an investment scheme. Jean promised returns as high as 22 percent, and claimed she was buying and selling rice in India with the money.
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Instead the money Jean collected went to her personal bank account. She used the income to pay off previous investors, as well as to finance her own lifestyle.
Jean enticed about 293 people to invest in the scheme between January 2007 and October of last year.
Jean is charged with one count of securities fraud, one count of grand theft and one count of organized scheme to defraud.