California Woman Gets 15-Year Sentence For $2.1 Million Ponzi Scheme

A California woman who operated a Ponzi scheme that bilked friends and family out of more than $2 million has been sentenced to serve 15 years in prison.  Jill Silvey, 51, received the sentence after her conviction earlier this year on at least forty-four fraud related charges.  Silvey was arrested in June 2012 after several investors began raising questions after interest payments were delayed.

According to authorities, Silvey began soliciting family and friends in 2005, telling them they could earn above-average returns by allowing Silvey to lend their money to potential homeowners who could not afford traditional home loans.  Silvey, who obtained her real estate license in 2002, prepared authentic-looking loan documents and deeds designed to give the impression that each investment was secured by real estate.  In total, more than 20 investors entrusted over $2 million to Silvey.

However, Silvey did not use investor funds to make loans to struggling homeowners; rather, she operated the classic Ponzi scheme by using the inflow of new investor funds to make Ponzi-like payments to existing investors.  Silvey is also alleged to have misappropriated investor funds for her own use, including to buy expensive clothes, remodel her home, and purchase luxury automobiles. When Silvey began falling behind on interest payments in 2012, some investors contacted homeowners directly to find out that they were unaware of any such loans.  Silvey was soon thereafter arrested.

Silvey was also ordered to pay restitution to her victims; however, her ability to do so is unknown in light of the fact she recently filed bankruptcy.