A Manhattan woman was arrested Thursday over a scheme that allegedly involved siphoning nearly $300,000 from dozens of investors — and using the money to fund her luxurious lifestyle, the FBI said.
Lakenya Hopkins, 44, is accused of preying on people of color by telling them investing with her would lead to generational wealth, then use their money to rent a fancy apartment and buy luxury items instead, federal prosecutors said.
Hopkins, who was caught with the help of the NYPD and U.S. Secret Service Financial Crimes Task Force, is said to have defrauded 110 people out of the $290,000 in the scheme, which lasted from August 2020 to approximately April 2021.
In November 2020, she used about $85,000 from investors to put up a year’s rent on a Manhattan home, prosecutors said in a lawsuit. She also used some of the money for travel and to buy cryptocurrency for her own benefit, the complaint said.
While running Money Magnet Platinum Membership Initiative LLC, Hopkins promised astronomical — and unrealistic — returns on investments, according to the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. 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 boost 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 would have enriched herself.”
Hopkins claimed to investors that 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 return, the FBI claimed.
But Hopkins never invested the money, and in January 2021 she failed to make the first guaranteed monthly payment, instead telling customers she was pausing MMPMI and returning the money, according to the complaint.
When pressed by concerned investors, she allegedly lied, saying that the money was still in the hedge fund and that they “wouldn’t take a loss.” She also claimed to them that she was “not withholding any money,” the FBI said.
Hopkins ended up paying back about five customers. Since Thursday, she has not paid investors the promised return, prosecutors said.
She was charged with one count each of securities fraud and wire transfer fraud, which could land her in prison for up to 40 years if convicted.
NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell called Hopkins’ alleged actions “despicable.”
“Mrs. Hopkins victimized her investors and betrayed their trust to carry out her own despicable embezzlement plan,” Sewell said in a statement.
Additional reporting by Larry Celona
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