A California woman admitted to masterminding a Ponzi scheme that bilked investors out of at least $2.2 million. Celia Gallardo, 42, pled guilty to a single count of wire fraud stemming from her role in the scheme. She was arrested earlier this year in July after a grand jury returned a sixteen-count indictment charging her with multiple counts of mail and wire fraud. Gallardo faces up to twenty years in federal prison, as well as a fine of up to $250,000.
According to authorities, Gallardo touted her real estate investment program to investors and promised above-average annual returns from Gallardo's purchase of condominiums. From September 2007 to September 2008, dozens of investors contributed to the venture and received promissory notes from Gallardo memorializing thier investment. However, rather than use investor funds for the stated purpose, Gallardo instead operated the classic Ponzi scheme, making Ponzi-style payments using funds from existing investors. Additionally, Gallardo lived a lavish lifestyle, regularly taking expensive vacations and using ijnvestor funds to make mortgage payments. In total, dozens of investors sustained losses exceeding $2 million.
At her sentencing hearing, which has not yet been set, it is likely that Gallardo will be ordered to pay restitution to her defrauded victims.