Milford real estate agent accused of $15M investment fraud scheme

MILFORD, OH (FOX19) - A former Milford real estate agent is accused of defrauding investors of at least $15 million in a scheme to purchase and sell real estate through real estate investment trusts, or REITs.

A federal grand jury indicted Brenda Ashcraft, 43, of Milford, on Thursday. 

The indictment alleges that Aschraft owned and operated French Manor Properties, which she told investors was acting as the REIT Trustee that would "secure residential and commercial real estate at wholesale pricing."

Prosecutors say investors believed that their investments were secured by real estate, and Ashcraft promised them 40% annual returns on their investments.

Beginning in approximately 2009 through 2013, Ashcraft allegedly solicited individuals to invest funds with her and French Manor Properties to purchase and sell through these REITs.

Instead, Ashcraft allegedly diverted investor funds to her own personal use and benefit, including a $50,000 investor payment that she used to pay for Cincinnati Reds season tickets.

Prosecutors say Ashcraft would at times send investors checks for returns on their investments but the checks often bounced.

She is charged with one count of wire fraud and securities fraud -- each punishable by up to 20 years in prison. She is also charged with one count of engaging in a monetary transaction in criminally derived property and aiding and abetting, punishable by up to 10 years in prison. 

Prosecutors say Ashcraft faces a maximum fine of $5 million on the securities fraud charge.  The wire fraud and monetary transaction charges each carry maximum fines of $250,000, or two times the loss.

She is scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court on Friday afternoon.

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