Former Bank of America Banker Sentenced to Prison For $2.1 Million Ponzi Scheme

A New Jersey woman who formerly worked as a personal banker at Bank of America was sentenced to serve at least three years in state prison by a Massachusetts state judge.  Elaina Patterson, 54, was sentenced to serve between three years and five years in prison by Massachusetts Superior Court Judge Peter Lauriat after pleading guilty to thirty-one counts of larceny.  Patterson was criminally charged in June 2013 by Massachusetts authorities.

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 pitching 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, leaving investors with more than $2 million in losses.  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.