Bellaire Resident Gets 10 Years For Investment Fraud
Melissa Marie Ramon, 34, of Bellaire, has been sentenced to 120 months in prison for defrauding millions of dollars from investors for a nonexistent French investment company, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today.
United States District Judge Vanessa Gilmore sentenced Ramon at a hearing this morning, finding that Ramon employed sophisticated means to perpetuate her fraud. In addition to imposing the 10-year prison term, Judge Gilmore ordered that Ramon pay $3,094,000 in restitution and serve a three-year-term of supervised release upon completion of her prison sentence.
Ramon has been in federal custody since June 15, 2009, when Judge Gilmore revoked her bond after the United States presented evidence showing that, while on bond, Ramon had defrauded people seeking to rent her home. Indicted in October 2008, Ramon pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud in August 2009.
The investment fraud took place from August 2004 through March 2007, when Ramon solicited individuals to invest in an entity she called JaxTrece.
Ramon falsely represented to investors that JaxTrece was a Paris-based international investment firm with thousands of investors and hundreds of millions of dollars in assets. Ramon told investors that JaxTrece provided bridge loans to nonprofit organizations which would be repaid with interest when pending grants were funded. Ramon sent investors account statements purportedly from JaxTrece in Paris.
Ramon falsely told investors that she was on the Board of JaxTrece and held a doctorate from Rice University. In fact, JaxTrece did not exist and Ramon did not even attend college. In addition, Ramon hired acting students to pose as JaxTrece officials and meet investors. Ramon obtained more than $4 million from investors during the scheme – money which she did not invest, but instead spent on personal items such as a Bellaire home, a second home in Wyoming and vacations.
The case was investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service and the Texas State Securities Board. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Gregg Costa.