Mariame Robinson-Cowan, 66, Yonkers, New York, waived her right to indictment and pleaded guilty in New Haven, Connecticut, federal court to one count of wire fraud related to her participation in an advance fee fraud scheme.
According to court documents and statements made in court, between approximately March 2010 and October 2014, a co-conspirator of Robinson-Cowan’s operated Jalin Realty Capital Advisors, LLC, (Jalin) and American Capital Holdings, LLC, (ACH). Using these businesses, the co-conspirator defrauded individuals, including Connecticut residents, who wired funds to him in anticipation of receiving large business loans. The upfront fees were alternately described as “application fees,” “collateral fees” or “commitment fees.” The victims were promised a refund of the upfront fees if their loan transactions were not completed.
In order to convince victim-borrowers that the loans were legitimate and Jalin and ACH had successfully secured loans in the past, the co-conspirator provided victims and potential victims Robinson-Cowan’s name and phone number and told them that they could contact Robinson-Cowan for a reference. Robinson-Cowan then falsely represented to victims and potential victims that she had, in fact, received funding from her co-conspirator for a construction loan, and that she had successfully done a project financed with her co-conspirator and Jalin.
Through this scheme, the government believes that more than 20 individuals provided Robinson-Cowan’s co-conspirator with a total of more than $3 million in advance fees for business loans that were never provided. A few individuals received a partial refund of advance fees they had provided, but the refunds were made using fees that had been paid by other victims.
Robinson-Cowan is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Janet Bond Arterton on May 20, 2015, at which time she faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years.
Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced the guilty plea.
This matter is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Ansonia Police Department, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Anthony Kaplan and Michael McGarry.
Citizens with information that may be helpful to this ongoing investigation are encouraged to contact the FBI at (203) 777-6311.