A Johnson County woman was sentenced to eight years in prison, with four years suspended, after pleading guilty Wednesday to securities fraud.
According to the charges, Wanda Robertson, 67, solicited investors through the Web site Craig’s List, claiming to offer a business opportunity in which they would be given ownership in her company, Real Estate Paper Chase, without having control over operations of the business.
Robertson’s scheme involved using investors’ credit histories to apply for loans and credit cards on behalf of the business, the Indiana Secretary of State’s office said.
She promised to pay any debt incurred under the investor’s name and provide a 4-percent return on their investments. Robertson further offered opportunities to become officers in “shelf corporations” and to then invest in real estate through these companies and make even more money, the Secretary of State’s office said.
Robertson pleaded guilty to securities fraud and two other charges involving her failure to properly register with the office before doing business in Indiana—all class C felonies.
In addition to her prison sentence, she also was ordered to repay her three victims a total of more than $170,000.
“This case is an egregious example of an unfortunate and dangerous trend—people using the Internet to perpetuate investment fraud,” Secretary of State Todd Rokita said in a prepared statement. “It is vital for Hoosiers to research investment opportunities thoroughly, especially those offered online.”
Robertson has been held since March in the Johnson County Jail on a $72,000 bond.
Johnson County Prosecutor Brad Cooper appointed Stephanie Caraway, senior attorney for Rokita’s Prosecution Assistance Unit, to handle the case against Robertson, with assistance from Cooper and his staff.