Williamsburg woman, 70, sentenced for embezzling $1.1M through Ponzi scheme

Patricia Means

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WAVY) — A Williamsburg woman was sentenced to five years in prison Monday for orchestrating a Ponzi scheme.

Prosecutors say 70-year-old Patricia Means embezzled over $1.1 million from more than a dozen victims through the scheme.

Means was also sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $1,136,862 to the victims and to the IRS.

Means pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering on June 13.

Court documents say Means is a retired investment broker, who worked in the industry for over 20 years. Around February 2009, Means developed an investment scheme to raise funds for developing a purported product called “Savvy Bag,” a handbag organizer. According to prosecutors, she went to substantial lengths to make the investment appear plausible, including having a seamstress make a prototype, setting up a website, applying for a patent, producing bound and printed copies of a brochure containing marketing and advertising information and sales and profit projections. Means gained the trust of her investors and manipulated them, prosecutors said.

Ultimately, between 2009 and 2015, Means embezzled over $1.1 million from investors of Savvy Bag, spending over $900,000 on housing, casino trips, vehicles and other personal items. Means solicited several people, including friends she had for a decade or more. The majority of the victims who invested their hard-earned savings were retirees or approaching retirement.