A Fair Lawn woman who posed as a Carlstadt wholesaler dealing in designer fashions and electronics turned herself in to the FBI today in connection with a multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme that federal authorities said paid instead for a Royal Caribbean cruise, purchases at Burberry, Gucci and Coach, and a $26,000 gift for her mother.
Photo that Devine used to promote her venture
Jenifer Devine, 39, was due for a first appearance and bail hearing in federal court in Newark after she surrendered at the nearby FBI field office.
More than 15 investors sent over $8 million to Devine and her paper company, which purported to sell clothing and electronics, federal authorities said.
UPDATE : A federal judge in Newark this afternoon released an accused Ponzi schemer on a $250,000 unsecured bond co-signed by her mom. The judge also ordered that Jenifer Devine, 39, undergo mental health and substance abuse treatment as is necessary, and that she have no contact with the victimized investors, pending trial. READ MORE….
Part of the attraction apparently was Devine herself, who told unwitting investors she ran a company that sold “top designer products at trade prices” and used a fetching photo, purportedly of herself, as a come-on. One of the items Devine claimed her company sold
“Why pay full RRP prices when you can get them up to 75% cheaper through direct trade,” she wrote in her ad. “[I] can supply such names as Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Guess, Oakley, Dior, Nine West, Chanel, [L]evis and much more all at trade costs.”
No, she couldn’t, federal authorities said.
“Devine’s wholesale business was wholesale fraud,” said U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman. “Victims who were promised huge returns paid the tab for the defendant’s vacation and designer goods. This case reminds investors: Always be wary of a sure thing.”
Assistant Special Agent in Charge David Velazquez of the FBI’s Newark Office said Devine played on the “basic human flaw” of greed overriding good judgment by making “grandiose promises” of returns that were virtually impossible to fulfill.
Using a Grand Street address, Devine Wholesale solicited short-term investments from New Jersey and throughout the United States of between 30 and 60 days that promised a quick 25-percent payout, the government alleges.
“Devine also showed some investors fake inventory lists of products she claimed to be reselling,” a statement from Fishman‘s office said.
In reality, “Devine Wholesale had no active wholesale clothing or electronics business… and had virtually no business sales.”
Devine, of 30th Street in Fair Lawn, instead used new investor funds to make principal and interest payments to existing investors, as well as to fund her own lifestyle, federal prosecutors said. In one instance, she simply wired $10,000 to an investor in New York that she had received from one in New Jersey, they said.
The criminal complaint sworn out by the FBI charges Devine with one count of wire fraud.
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