Ponzi Scheme Charges Levied Against Salesperson Who Promised Low Risk Real Estate Investments

Allison Tussey —  September 24, 2013 — Leave a comment

Shawn Dicken, 39, Bay City, Michigan, is the subject of felony charges for her alleged role in an extensive multi-county Ponzi scheme.

The defendant is accused of defrauding senior citizens out of millions of dollars.

Beginning in 2011, it is alleged that Dicken was employed as a salesperson for The Diversified Group Advisory Firm LLC, an investment company. During her tenure with Diversified, Dicken is alleged to have made material misrepresentations of the investments she marketed to investors. Dicken allegedly stated the investments offered by Diversified were without risk, completely liquid, featuring a guaranteed rate of return of between 9.5% and 10.44%. Charges were filed involving nine Michigan residents who fell victim to Dicken’s fraudulent investment scheme.

It is alleged that Dicken failed to disclose the risks associated with the actual investment in question—a highly leveraged real estate investment that could result in the loss of all of the investors’ money. Many investors risked their life savings. The Attorney General investigation revealed Dicken was allegedly funneling investors’ money into a Ponzi Scheme operated by a Saginaw man, Joel Wilson. Wilson also faces extensive felony criminal charges. Dicken allegedly swindled investors out of over two million dollars using dishonest tactics of material misrepresentation and the investigation revealed she took an eight percent commission, pocketing approximately $160,000 for herself.

In January 2013, nine felony charges were filed against Wilson. Wilson remains a fugitive from justice with warrants outstanding for his arrest.

The following charges were filed against Shawn Dicken in the 74th District Court in Midland County:

• One count of Criminal Enterprises – Conducting, a felony punishable by up to twenty years in prison and/or a $100,000 fine; and,

• One count of Embezzlement From A Vulnerable Adult – $50,000 Or More But Less Than $100,000, a felony punishable by up to fifteen years in prison and/or a $15,000 fine or three times the value, the defendant must admit the amount, or it must be greater; and,

• One count of Securities – Fraudulent Sales, a felony punishable by up to ten years in prison or a $20,000 fine; and,

• Seven counts of False Pretenses – $1,000 Or More But Less Than $20,000, a felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine, or 3 times the value of the money or property involved, whichever is greater.

Dicken was arraigned on September 18, 2013 before Judge John Hart in Midland County’s 75th District Court. Judge Hart ordered a $1,000,000 cash or surety bond and ordered Dicken to surrender her passport and not to engage as an investment advisor. Dicken is expected to appear in Midland County’s 75th District Court court on September 25, 2013 at 1:15 P.M. for a pre-exam conference.

Citizens who believe they may have been victims of Shawn Dicken, Joel Wilson or The Diversified Group are encouraged to file complaints with the Attorney General’s Office at www.michigan.gov/ag by clicking “File a Complaint.”

A criminal charge is merely an accusation, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

Attorney General Bill Schuette announced the charges.

Schuette encourages Michigan citizens to exercise caution before investing their money with those who promise exorbitant returns.

“Con artists try new tricks every day to make a quick profit from vulnerable Michigan citizens,” said Schuette. “We are aggressively cracking down on criminals who target the life savings of Michigan seniors. Be wary and ask questions of anyone promising investments that seem too good to be true.”

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