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Secretary of State

Securities Division > News Archive  > For Immediate Release: February 20, 2009 Online Business Venture Leads to Felony Investment Fraud Charges for Woman in Johnson County

Contact: Jim Gavin
317-233-8655
Media@sos.in.gov

Indiana Secretary of State Prosecution Assistance Unit helps uncover alleged investment fraud where victims were approached through popular Web site

(Indianapolis) – Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita announced the arrest today by the Indiana State Police of Wanda Robertson at her home in Indianapolis. Robertson faces nine separate felony counts in Johnson County involving violations of Indiana's Securities Act. The arrest comes after an investigation conducted by the Indiana State Police with assistance by Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita's Prosecution Assistance Unit (PAU). Charges were filed by Johnson County Prosecutor Brad Cooper. Robertson faces up to eight years in prison for each class C felony and is being held on $72,000 bond.

According to the charges filed, Robertson allegedly solicited investors through the Web site Craig's List, claiming to offer a business opportunity where individuals would be given ownership in her company, Real Estate Paper Chase, but have no control over the running of the business. Robertson's alleged scheme involved using investors' credit histories to apply for loans and credit cards on behalf of the business. Robertson promised to pay any debt incurred under the investor's name and provide a 4 percent return on their investment. She also offered opportunities to become officers in "shelf corporations," and to then invest in real estate through these companies and make even more money.

"During these difficult financial times, it is even more important for Hoosiers to be on alert for alternative investments that might really be fraud," said Secretary Rokita. "This case should serve as a warning to Hoosiers just how far a fraudster will go to reach potential victims. When a perpetrator uses the Internet, it makes it even harder for folks to fully assess the person on the other end of the transaction—the person who is going to receive the investor's hard earned dollars. Hoosiers should gather as much information as possible before investing, and that should always include a face-to-face meeting."

Specific charges against Robertson include six counts of Fraudulent or Deceitful Acts with the Offer, Sale or Purchase of a Security, and three counts of Transacting Business as an Unregistered Broker-Dealer or Agent – all Class C felonies.

Cooper appointed former Johnson County Deputy Prosecutor Stephanie Caraway, now Senior Attorney for Secretary Rokita's Prosecution Assistance Unit, as Special Deputy Prosecutor to try the case against Robertson with assistance from Cooper and his staff.

The charges described are merely an accusation. The defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

For more information on how to avoid becoming a victim of investment fraud, visit http://www.in.gov/sos/securities/2521.htm.

About the Prosecution Assistance Unit

In 2004, Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita created the Prosecution Assistance Unit within the Securities Division of the Secretary of State's Office. Its sole purpose is to assist police and prosecutors in investigating and prosecuting criminal violations of the Indiana Securities Act and the Indiana Loan Brokers Act. The investigators and attorneys in the unit collectively have over 72 years of experience in investigating and prosecuting criminals. Since its inception, the Unit has helped to convict 38 criminals in state and federal courts across Indiana in cases that have resulted in over 310 years of time sentenced. In addition, courts have ordered defendants to pay over $29 million in restitution to crime victims.

Media Contact: Jim Gavin: 317.233.8655 or media@sos.in.gov.

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