U.S. Attorney: Manhattan woman ran investment scheme to defraud 110 investors
Targeted News Service (Press Releases)
NEW YORK, Sept. 9 -- The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Damian Williams, issued the following news release on Sept. 8, 2022:
Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Patrick Freaney, Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the United States Secret Service ("USSS"), and Keechant L. Sewell, the Commissioner of the New York City Police Department ("NYPD"), announced today the arrest of LAKENYA HOPKINS on charges of securities fraud and wire fraud for her role in a scheme to defraud over 110 investors in Money Magnet Platinum Membership Initiative LLC ("MMPMI") of hundreds of thousands of dollars by promising unrealistically high rates of return on investments to induce them to invest and lying about how their money would be invested.
Rather than invest the money as promised, HOPKINS used investors' money for her own personal gain, including to rent a luxury apartment in Manhattan and to purchase high-end luxury goods. HOPKINS was arrested this morning in Manhattan and will be presented before a magistrate judge in the Southern District of New York.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: "As alleged, Lakenya Hopkins preyed on investors, promising them that investing with her would create generational wealth for their families. She lied to induce their investments and continued to lie when they questioned her about the status of their investments. Instead of investing the money as promised, she allegedly enriched herself with a luxury apartment and high-end purchases. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to protect the public from investment frauds."
Special Agent-in-Charge Freaney said: "Fraudsters will continue their attempts to manipulate and threaten the larger financial landscape in which the American public conducts their business and transactions, but the highly skilled investigators of the U.S. Secret Service and New York City Police Department will ensure they do not succeed in evading our judicial system. The allegations contained within this indictment describe predatory and fraudulent behavior that specifically exploited individuals seeking to invest for their future. I am immensely proud of the men and women of the Secret Service for their efforts in this investigation and would like to thank the United States Attorney's Office for their continued partnership."
Police Commissioner Sewell said: "Ms. Hopkins turned her investors into victims, betraying their trust to carry out her own despicable embezzlement scheme. The NYPD and our many partners in law enforcement will continue to aggressively pursue anyone who seeks to defraud others, holding them fully accountable for their actions. I want to thank and commend the U.S. Secret Service and the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District for their tireless dedication and focused commitment to seeing justice served in this case."
As alleged in the Indictment unsealed today in Manhattan federal court:
From in or about August 2020 through in or about April 2021, HOPKINS operated MMPMI as a fraudulent "investment club." HOPKINS specifically marketed MMPMI to people of color as a way for them to build generational wealth for their families. During her scheme, HOPKINS solicited money from investors by falsely promising them, among other things, that she would provide them with an $8,000 monthly return for every $1,000 investment they made in MMPMI. HOPKINS also falsely told investors that she could guarantee this return because she would pool investor money and invest it into a hedge fund that guaranteed a three to five percent daily return.
The investments were memorialized in documents known as "MMPMI Membership Promissory Notes." The terms of those investment contracts generally provided that, for every $1,000 an investor invested in MMPMI, the investor would receive an $8,000 monthly return, $5,000 of which would be paid directly to each investor. These documents and HOPKINS' false representations deceived investors into believing that their principal and return were guaranteed.
Despite her representations to investors, however, HOPKINS never invested any of the investors' money in a hedge fund or made any other investments for the benefit of investors. Instead, HOPKINS stole the investors' money and used it for her own personal gain. Between in or about November 2020 and in or about April 2021, Hopkins used most of the investors' money to (i) make large cash withdrawals, (ii) purchase high-end luxury goods, (iii) rent a luxury apartment, (iv) pay for food, travel, and other goods, and (v) purchase cryptocurrency for her own benefit.
In or about January 2021, after she had failed to make the first guaranteed monthly payments to investors, HOPKINS told investors she was pausing MMPMI and giving out refunds. When investors questioned her about the status of their investments, HOPKINS continued to lie. For example, on a videoconference with investors in or about January 2021, HOPKINS told investors that their money was still in the hedge fund, that they would "not take a loss," and that she was "not keeping any money." Despite these representations, HOPKINS gave only approximately five investors a refund payment. To date, HOPKINS has not paid any investors the promised returns.
As a result of this investment scheme, HOPKINS fraudulently obtained over $290,000 from over 110 investors.
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HOPKINS, 44, of New York, New York, is charged with one count of securities fraud, which carries a maximum potential sentence of 20 years in prison, and one count of wire fraud, which carries a maximum potential sentence of 20 years in prison.
The maximum potential penalties are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.
Mr. Williams praised the investigative work of the USSS and NYPD and thanked the New York Regional Office of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which has separately filed a civil action against HOPKINS and MMPMI.
This case is being handled by the Office's General Crimes Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Matthew J. King and Elizabeth Daniels are in charge of the prosecution.
The allegations contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
 As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Indictment, and the description of the Indictment set forth herein, constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.