|Pile of money. (SHUTTERSTOCK)
A Canadian woman living in Washington state allegedly ran a Ponzi scheme and raised $135.4 million from at least 800 investors in the U.S. and Canada, the B.C. Securities Commission says.
Doris Elizabeth Nelson faces a securities commission hearing in B.C. and a criminal trial in the U.S., which is scheduled to begin in June.
In a notice of hearing released Monday, the B.C. Securities Commission alleges Nelson ran a payday loan business, called the Little Loan Shoppe, which she financed by raising money from investors in B.C. and the U.S.
In exchange for their money, she allegedly gave investors promissory notes issued by her companies that promised 40% to 60% interest rates. She also told investors the investment was risk-free, the statement of hearing alleges.
The commission says Nelson raised $135.4 million, at least $69 million of which came from at least 355 investors in B.C.
She stopped paying investors on April 4, 2009, and three months later a group of investors petitioned one of her companies to bankruptcy, the statement says.
She was arrested in the U.S. and charged with 71 counts of wire fraud, 22 counts of mail fraud and 17 counts of international money laundering.
She also faces allegations and a hearing before the B.C. Securities Commission on charges of fraud, illegal distribution of a security and false statements to the commission.
Nelson is currently living under house arrest in Colbert, Wash. The commission will set a date for her hearing in Vancouver on Feb. 19.