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Parents complain about the nasty goings-on with women related to PTAs but serious financial fraud doesn't typically serve as the cornerstone for gripes: Three former Armstrong Elementary School PTA members in Diamond Bar (CA) are accused of running a Ponzi scheme, the women using middle school events to charm investors--and steal $1 million bucks.
The three woman, ranging from 41 to 51 years old were busted in Diamond Bar, California. 41-year-old Maricela Barajas and 50-year-old Juliana Menefee were arrested just two months ago -- the 51-year-old Eva Perez already serving time after a guilty plea. Perez is slated to spend 11 years in prison after copping to the ponzi scheme charges in a San Bernardino County court, admitting to felonies related to grand theft. The other two women on the middle school's PTA are facing 20 counts of grand theft and securities fraud each -- each now looking at 20 years in prison for the alleged financial crimes.
Cops say the three former members of the the Armstrong Elementary School PTA in Diamond Bar garnered trust of roughly 40 victims or more, by introducing themselves at the middle school's events or social functions. The former PTA members are accused of convincing other moms and people that they were investing in the AltaDena Dairy company. That proved not to be the case.
The Armstrong Elementary PTA women claimed the AltaDena Dairy investments would see high rates of return, the claim that PTA members at the middle school held an exclusive right to distribute the brand or dairy products at Disneyland and Disney Hotels and other retail stores in California.
The Diamond Bar women reportedly promised investors they'd get up to 100% of their financial investments back -- backed by a supposed promise that investors would get the cash returned if that didn't happen. It didn't happen. Investors from Diamond Bar and Chino, as well as numerous cities throughout Los Angeles county, invested in what was really a Ponzi scheme. And those people lost -- big-time. One person invested over one-fifth of the money personally, in what was over $200,000 lost by just one 'investor'.
Like any good scheme, the defrauded and supposed 'AltaDena Dairy investors' were told by the former Diamond Bar-area PTA members that they didn't want to miss out on an incredible 'opportunity' to better life for their families. As it turned out, AltaDena didn't have anything to do with the scenario. Nor did the women at the California Armstrong Elementary school hold any exclusive right to distribution at Disneyland for the dairy goods. Unfortunately at least 40 people grabbed for that opportunity to better life, handing over a million dollars in just two years' time between 2008 to 2010.
When people tried to cash in on the promise of a financial return and what was essentially a 'money-back' guarantee, it didn't pan out. Demands for payment didn't work out so well. Pyramid schemes depend on a cash flow -- and a lack of new investors who would be able to cover the 'costs' of operating the scam weren't pumping in the required cash to keep the scheme moving. The result: Exposed.
Among the saddest parts: The investors didn't happen to be among the wealthiest individuals with cash-aplenty. Cops say the PTA members were using the school as essentially a recruiting area, where they're accused of targeting the average Joe -- or Joanna. Police believe the moms were convincing parents to take out second mortgages on their homes or tap into their life savings accounts -- all in the name of 'investing'. Stupidity isn't an excuse for anything in life. But, basically, the PTA moms were hitting up the people who didn't really know better or have previous experience in a realm that ended up hitting the victims hard. Those who 'invested' ended up kissing that money goodbye.