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Feds: Woman scammed $4.6M from SoFla Haitians, paid for wedding, luxuries

MIAMI — Federal prosecutors charged Judith Dianne Paris-Pinder of defrauding $4.6 million primarily from the South Florida Haitian community through a Ponzi scheme. Half of the money, they said this week, went toward Paris-Pinder’s wedding, vacations, shopping and cosmetic surgery.

“Paris-Pinder spent about $1 million on herself, paying for her wedding, vacations and other entertainment,” federal prosecutors said.  

Paris-Pinder, who made her first appearance in Federal Magistrate Court in Miami on Monday, pleaded not guilty to “information” with wire fraud, and was granted a $200,000 bond.

Scott Bennet Saul, Paris-Pinder’s attorney, said Thursday he had no more to add anything beyond a statement published in the Miami Herald.

“From the onset of my representation, there was an intention for my client to amicably resolve her situation,” Saul, based in Miami, told the publication. “She has a genuine acceptance of responsibility, is sorry for what had transpired and plans on being cooperative with the government.”

In a parallel investigation, Paris-Pinder is also being sued by the Securities and Exchange Commission. 

Through information from releases from both the prosecutors and regulators, authorities detailed the “Ponzi-like” scheme she allegedly perpetrated.

Paris-Pinder, 49, of Biscayne Park, is the president of Pinder Associate and Pinder’s Multi-Services and Marketing Group, according to federal prosecutors, and has worked out of offices in North Miami. 

Between November 2019 and October 2021, authorities said, Paris-Pinder offered loan agreements to investors, promising returns of up to 50% within 30 to 90 days. She told investors she had a relationship with a prominent Miami-based attorney whose personal injury clients need advance loans in anticipation of settlements. 

Paris-Pinder “promised investors that their funds were safe, that the funds would be placed in an attorney’s escrow account, and that their investment proceeds would be paid by the attorney upon each client’s settlement,” according to the SEC complaint.

“Instead, Defendant used the investor funds she raised through the offer and sale of loan agreements to enrich herself and make “interest” payments to investors in a Ponzi-like fashion,” they said.

By October 2021, the SEC reports, Paris-Pinder had raised at least $2.3 million from more than 280 investors through word-of-mouth. Payments were received in cash, Zelle, CashApp, in-person bank teller deposits and wire transfers. They were deposited by Pinder’s personal and business accounts. 

The SEC reports many of these investors did not have any pre-existing relationship with Paris-Pinder, and at least 10 of the investors were unaccredited, that is, earning under $200,000 annually. 

Table from the SEC court document detailing “misappropriated spending”. Source: Securities & Exchange Commission.

Paris-Pinder’s alleged ponzi scheme began to fall apart when she failed to make principal and interest payments in August 2021, prosecutors said. She tried to assure investors by falsely claiming her bank was having delays processing payments, all the while she was making numerous transactions from her bank. 

She continued to solicit funds after that, raising over $300,000 from new loan agreements between August 1, 2021 and October 31, 2021. Many investors have been out of contact with Pinder since 2021. 

If convicted, she faces up to 20 years in federal prison. 

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