Brenda Ashcraft, Milford real estate agent, indicted in $15 million investment fraud scheme

MILFORD, Ohio -- A Milford real estate agent accused of bilking investors out of at least $15 million was indicted Wednesday.

A federal grand jury says Brenda Ashcraft defrauded investors between 2009 and 2013 while she owned and operated French Manor Properties in Milford.

Investigators say Ashcraft, 43, lied for years about the money investors gave her for real estate transactions.

According to the indictment, Aschraft told investors she would “secure residential and commercial real estate at wholesale pricing.” Investors believed that their investments were secured by real estate and Ashcraft promised them 40 percent annual returns on their investments, the charges allege.

But the indictment claims Ashcraft diverted investor funds for her own personal use, including a $50,000 payment that she used to pay for Cincinnati Reds season tickets. 

Ashcraft would at times send investors checks for returns on their investments but the checks often bounced, according to attorneys.

A 37-year-old Eastgate man who asked to remain anonymous told I-Team’s Jason Law that he made multiple investments with Ashcraft – and the last one was for more than $18,000.

He said he doesn’t think he’ll see that money again.

"I was shocked because I really believed it was something true,” the investor said. “I knew there was a little risk but I was hoping it would work out this time."

There are at least four civil lawsuits from investors suing Ashcraft to get their money back.

Ashcraft is charged with one count of wire fraud and one count of 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. 

She 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.

Ashcraft is scheduled to appear before a United States District Court magistrate Friday at 1:30 p.m.

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