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Mississippi woman indicted on 19 counts in Ponzi scheme

JACKSON — Six families gave a woman over $1 million in a Ponzi scheme based in Mississippi and California, according to federal indictments returned in Jackson, Mississippi.

Gina Palasini, already serving a 10-year prison sentence on related state charges, has been indicted on 19 federal counts of fraud and money laundering. The indictments allege Palasini used victims’ life savings to make supposed interest payments to other clients, while spending their money on a “lavish” vacation and a race car for her son.

In all, Palasini faces 12 counts of fraud, six counts of wire fraud and one count of money laundering.

The Clarion-Ledger reports her attorney, Josh Bogen, would not comment on the new charges.

With false promises of investment gains and benefit enrollment, six families gave a woman over $1 million in a Ponzi scheme based in Mississippi and California, according to an indictment in U.S. District Court.

Although her insurance license was revoked in 2006, Palasini continued to sell accident, life and death insurance and created four companies with the pretense of helping seniors and veterans make investments and enroll in benefits from 2009 to 2012. She forged insurance sales agents’ signatures on annuity investment documents during the scam since she didn’t have a license, according to the indictment from the U.S. District Court for Mississippi’s Northern District.

She was arrested on the state charges on Aug. 29, 2014, amid a Clarion-Ledger investigation that uncovered years of alleged fraud by the benefits consultant whom numerous people said stole their money.

While posing to help her clients obtain Medicaid or Veterans Affairs benefits, she encouraged them to invest in annuities, ranging from $100,000 to $330,000, which she sometimes said would ensure they qualified for the benefits, according to the indictment. Along with veterans, she tended to target the elderly, including a nursing home resident who had Alzheimer’s disease and invested $100,000 with Palasini, the indictment alleges.

Palasini typically promised clients 10 percent interest on the annuity investments, which she never made, spending the money instead for her own means or putting it back into her businesses. She then mailed clients checks assumed to be interest payments, some of which bounced, according to court records.

A trial date in this case has been set for Oct. 5 in federal court.

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