An Odessa woman charged with criminal wire fraud in federal court also in trouble with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which filed a civil lawsuit for other business dealings she was involved in.
Darlene Aurelia Bishop, 40, is accused by the SEC of helping market a multi-million dollar investment scheme, which is completely separate from the wire fraud scheme she is charged with in criminal court.
According to the federal petition, Sheridan, Colo., man Geoffrey Lunn sought out Bishop and Las Vegas, Nev., man Vincent Curry to help him market the scheme, which promised a $2 million return on a $44,000 investment.
The scheme promised the return within 10 to 12 banking days by leveraging financial instruments, according to the petition, but instead Lunn used the money -- which totaled more than $5.77 million from at least 70 investors -- to make cash withdrawals, pay Bishop and Curry, make a Ponzi-like payment to a favored investor, give money to three "call girls" in Las Vegas, and pay personal and unrelated business expenses.
From August 2010 through February 2011, Bishop was paid a total of $253,000 by Lunn, according to the petition.
The scheme, which used fake business Dresdner Financial and its .44 Magnum Leveraged Financing Program, violated several federal laws, according to the petition, including securities laws, anti-fraud provisions and registration provisions for brokers.
"Lunn, Bishop and Curry created an aura of credibility by inventing a fictitious firm with a name similar to a legitimate company," Robert J. Burson, associate regional director of the SEC's Chicago office, said in a news release. "But their 100 percent guaranteed investment program and the astronomical returns they promised were nothing more than an elaborate hoax."
Other than recovering money that was fraudulently obtained, the lawsuit does not specify the penalties and fines it is seeking against the three people.
Bishop is also charged in the Midland federal court with 15 total counts of wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering, all in connection with a different operation in the Permian Basin in which she is accused of providing false "proof of funds" documentation.
According to the federal indictment, Bishop was paid about $5.8 million from June 2008 through March 2009 in connection with that case.
Distributed by MCT Information Services
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