A certified public accountant admitted to a federal wire charge Wednesday for running a Ponzi scheme that bilked victims out of more than $27.5 million over more than two decades, authorities said.
Carol Ann Pedersen, 66, of Long Beach is scheduled to return to federal court in Los Angeles for sentencing on July 10, U.S. Attorneys’ Office spokesman Ciaran McEvoy said in a written statement. She faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.
Pedersen ran the scheme between 1996 and 2017, acting as an “unlicensed investment advisor” for the victims, prosecutors said.
She offered her clients two different types of fraudulent investments, officials said. One promised low risk and fixed returns, while the other purported to pool clients’ money together for stock investing.
“During the course of the scheme, Pedersen’s victims invested more than $40 million into these accounts and the total loss to the victims was at least $27,550,720.40,” McEvoy said.
She admitted in her plea agreement that rather than investing the money, she deposited it into her personal accounts, then used it to buy real estate, pay credit card bills and set up trust funds for family members, officials said.
Prosecutors added that Pedersen would re-distribute victims’ money to make it look like the investments were legitimate, and also created phony documents in support of the scam.
In addition to the criminal case, McEvoy said the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed civil action against Pedersen on Wednesday.