Ex-Personal Banker Pleads Guilty to Fraud, Gets Prison

Ex-Personal Banker Pleads Guilty to Fraud, Gets Prison IvanRu/iStock

A former Bank of America personal banker was sentenced Monday to serve up to five years in state prison, to be followed by ten years on probation, after pleading guilty to defrauding investors out of more than $2 million, Reuters reports.

The former banker, Elaina Patterson, was charged with 31 larceny counts for stealing from 31 people, some of whom were relatives and friends—through what Reuters referred to as a “Ponzi-like scheme” that saw most of the funds “invested” diverted instead to Patterson’s personal use.

Patterson’s plot lasted more than ten years before her arrest in 2011. During that time, she bilked two separate groups of victims. The first involved friends and family members who gave her a total of $4.5 million to invest in high-interest accounts. The second scam, which began in 2009, saw Patterson take a total of more than $1 million from 16 individuals by forging signatures on withdrawal slips to help cover up her previous fraud.

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley said in a statement that “This defendant’s gross violation of trust negatively impacted more than 30 victims, many of whom were her friends and family, and others who were long-time and often elderly customers. Through today’s state prison sentence, she is being held accountable for her deceitful and illegal actions.”

Investigators, Reuters reported, uncovered about $6 million in fraudulent transactions, but Patterson, following the math of a Ponzi-like scheme, returned close to $4 million to investors by stealing from her newer investors.

Coakley said her office began investigating the matter after Bank of America itself referred the case following an internal investigation.

Patterson will also be prohibited from ever working again in financial services, Coakley’s office noted in a press release announcing the plea and sentencing.

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