A Massachusetts woman who worked as a personal banker at Bank of American for more than a decade has been charged with operating a Ponzi scheme that duped victims out of more than $2 million. Elaina Patterson, 53, was charged with 16 counts of larceny over $250 and 15 counts of larceny over $250 from a person over 60. Each charge of larceny over $250 carries a maximum jail term of five years (less if a fine is also ordered), while each charge of larceny from a person over 60 carries a maximum imprisonment of ten years.
According to authorities, Patterson began working at Bank of America in 1999 at a branch in Reading, Massachusetts. After gaining the trust of family and friends, she began pushing investments that she represented were reserved only for corporate and high-level clients due to their lucrative annual returns ranging from 10% to 15%. Customers were given fake depository receipts and tax forms to add an air of legitimacy, and Patterson took in a total of more than $6 million from over 30 investors.
However, Patterson allegedly did not use the funds as intended, instead setting up a series of shadow accounts that she used to funnel investors funds both to herself and to other investors under the guise of interest payments. In total, nearly $4 million was paid back to investors. When the scheme began to falter in 2009, Patterson allegedly stole money from the accounts of older investors to disguise the theft.
Bank of America became aware of the fraud after doing its own initial investigation, and subsequently notified authorities.