THE CON: She promised investors up to 30% returns on real estate investments but instead of using their money to buy residential properties, Antoinette Hodgson headed straight to the casino.
THE DAMAGE: $45 million
THE OUTCOME: Hodgson pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud and conspiracy; she’s awaiting sentencing and faces up to 40 years.
Antoinette Hodgson presented herself as a real estate mogul who had tons of connections and owned dozens of properties. When she made her pitch to wealthy investors, she told them she could make them fast cash. All they had to do was give her the money – she’d buy a residential property, renovate it and flip it for big profits.
Twenty wealthy individuals in New York and New Jersey bought Hodgson’s routine. She took one investor on a tour of 20 homes to seal the deal.
As the money came in, Hodgson had no trouble spending it – she just wasn’t buying very many properties. Of the $45 million that Hodgson collected from investors, she spent only $6 million on real estate.
Some of the remaining funds went to the first investors in Hodgson’s three-year Ponzi scheme. She gave tens of thousands of dollars to her family and friends. She bought a Dunkin’ Donuts franchise in Arizona for $700,000. She also took several trips to gamble in Las Vegas and Atlantic City casinos.
The acting head of the FBI’s New York office had something to say about this: “Antoinette Hodgson allegedly has already proved she’s a lousy gambler by losing the investor’s money in the casinos,” George Venizelos told The New York Post. “She has now gambled with her future and faces serious charges for a plot of her own making.”
In September 2010, Hodgson pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy. She was ordered to forfeit $5 million, along with her stake in the 24 properties she bought over the course of the scam and the Dunkin’ Donuts franchise. She awaits sentencing and faces up to 40 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.