DALLAS —Nemelee Liwanag Jiao, 47, of Irving, Texas, pleaded guilty today, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Renee Harris Toliver, to orchestrating a Ponzi scheme that cost at least 35 investors more than $1,000,000, announced U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox of the Northern District of Texas.
Jiao pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud. She faces a maximum statutory penalty for wire fraud is 20 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. Jiao will remain on bond pending her sentencing, which is scheduled for April 4, 2018.
According to the plea agreement factual resume, beginning in February 2009 and continuing through September 2016, Jiao devised a scheme to cause individuals to invest in promissory notes purportedly issued by Shepherd’s Light Learning Center and Lord of Peace Learning Center, two non-profit schools located in the Philippines, but instead used the invested funds for her personal benefit. Jiao raised at least $1,000,000 from at least 35 investors.
Specifically, Jiao represented to investors that she was a representative of Shepherd’s Light and Lord of Peace and entered into investment contracts, also known as promissory notes, with investors falsely promising rates of return of 10% to 100% on investments. Jiao also promised repayment of principle and interest resulting from the investment within 30 days to one year following the investment. Many of the investment contracts were notarized to make the investments appear legitimate. Jiao then directed investors to write checks and wire funds to bank accounts controlled by her. Jiao used the investors’ funds for her own benefit, including a country club membership and personal expenses.