West Virginia Business Owner Accused Of Bilking Investors

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WHEELING, W.Va. (AP) – The owner of a now-closed business in northern West Virginia has been charged with bilking investors out of millions of dollars through what prosecutors called a Ponzi scheme.

Federal prosecutors said Wednesday that 65-year-old Donna S. Brown of Clarington, Ohio, was charged with wire fraud, mail fraud and money laundering.

Prosecutors say in a news release that Brown owned Budget Finance of New Martinsville and that she has entered into a plea agreement.

Prosecutors say at least 25 people suffered substantial losses, and the total losses involving Brown’s business are at least $9.5 million.

According to court documents, Brown promised investors annual returns of between 8 and 12 percent. Prosecutors say Brown allegedly used money from new investors to pay existing ones.

Budget Finance closed in November 2015.