(CN) – An El Segundo woman took $23 million in a Ponzi scheme that targeted Latinos, the SEC says in Los Angles Federal Court. Clelia A. Flores and her business, Maximum Return Investments, took the money from more than 150 people in seven states, by “guaranteeing” 25 percent returns in 45 days, the SEC says.
Flores roped in customers by offering high-yielding investments in oil, gold, and real estate, the SEC says. It claims she spent more than $3.5 million of it on herself, $443,000 to buy a home, and almost $1.5 million to finance MRI’s operations and pay for a lavish party to celebrate the company’s alleged success.
Flores promised “guaranteed” returns of up to 25 percent within 45 days, according to the complaint. But she allegedly used only $5.6 million to invest in high-risk ventures and start-up companies that never paid MRI any returns. She allegedly ran the scam from 2006 through 2008.
The SEC seeks an injunction, disgorgement, and fines.