A Manhattan woman was arrested Thursday over a scheme in which she allegedly siphoned nearly $300,000 from dozens of investors — and used the cash to bankroll her luxurious lifestyle, the feds said.
Lakenya Hopkins, 44, is accused of preying on people of color by telling them investing with her would lead to generational wealth, and then using their money to rent a swanky apartment and buy fancy items instead, federal prosecutors said.
Hopkins, who was nabbed with the help of the NYPD’s financial crimes task force and the US Secret Service, allegedly conned 110 people out of $290,000 in the scheme, which lasted from August 2020 until about April 2021.
In November 2020, she used about $85,000 from investors to put down a year’s worth of rent on a Manhattan home, prosecutors said in an indictment. She also used some of the funds on travel and to buy cryptocurrency for her own benefit, the complaint states.
While running Money Magnet Platinum Membership Initiative LLC, Hopkins promised astronomical — and unrealistic — rates of returns on investments, the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York said. She marketed the fake “investment club” as a way for people of color to build generational wealth, US Attorney Damian Williams said.
“She lied to induce their investments and continued to lie when they questioned her about the status of their investments,” Williams said in a statement. “Instead of investing the money as promised, she allegedly enriched herself.”
Hopkins claimed to investors she would get them $8,000 in monthly returns for every $1,000 they invested by pooling the money and putting it into a hedge fund that guaranteed a 3-5% daily returns, the feds alleged.
But Hopkins never invested the money and in January 2021 she failed to dole out the first guaranteed monthly payment, instead telling clients she was pausing MMPMI and would return the money, according to the complaint.
When pressed by worried investors, she allegedly lied and said the money was still in the hedge fund and they would “not take a loss.” She also claimed to them she was “not keeping any money,” the feds said.
Hopkins ultimately refunded about five clients. As of Thursday, she has not paid investors the promised returns, according to prosecutors.
She was charged with one count each of securities fraud and wire fraud that could land her in prison for a maximum of 40 years if convicted.
NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell called Hopkins’ alleged actions “despicable.”
“Ms. Hopkins turned her investors into victims, betraying their trust to carry out her own despicable embezzlement scheme,” Sewell said in a statement.
Additional reporting by Larry Celona