A Rhode Island woman who owned a property-preservation business is headed to prison for eight years for running a $10.3 million Ponzi scheme, according to the Department of Justice.
Monique N. Brady, 45, was sentenced to eight years in federal prison and ordered to pay restitution of $4.78 million. Brady’s company, MNB, specialized in preserving the condition of foreclosed homes. According to prosecutors, Brady told investors that the company had secured contracts to perform large-scale rehabilitation projects on foreclosed homes throughout New England. Brady scammed payments ranging from $20,000 to $80,000 from 31 investors, promising them a return of 50% of the profit realized on the project they invested in. Brady told investors that the large investments would go to pay subcontractors.
In reality, MNB had been hired by banks to perform menial tasks at foreclosed properties such as mowing grass, changing locks, and snow removal. Most of the projects secured by the company were for less than $1,000, and some were for as little as $25, according to the Justice Department.
In order to make potential investors believe that her company had secured large and lucrative contracts, Brady provided phony emails purporting to be from a national property-rehabilitation company and fraudulent itemizations of work to be performed. She also included, without permission, the identity of an actual employee at the national company in order to make the emails appear authentic.
Brady even scammed people close to her, including a close friend from childhood, a friend from law school, a childcare provider for her children, her step-brother, an elderly Alzheimer’s sufferer, and three firefighters.
An IRS investigation revealed that of the 171 properties for which Brady solicited and received funds from investors, 98 were properties her company was never hired to preserve and on which no work was performed.
When Brady discovered she was under investigation by the IRS, she asked investors to destroy all text and email correspondence related to MNB. She also purchased a one-way ticket to Vietnam, but was arrested one day before her scheduled departure.
“The nearly two dozen people Monique Brady defrauded of millions included family, first responders, neighbors, childhood pals, and elders in the grips of dementia – people who trusted her to invest their life savings, only to be left with empty bank accounts and grief,” said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Boston Division. “We at the FBI hope the victims find some measure of comfort in today’s sentence.”