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Arrest made in $31 million investment scam

Federal prosecutors say Donna Brown was scamming dozens of people out of millions of dollars, using the company Budget Finance in New Martinsville.

Last year, a New Martinsville business abruptly closed its doors, and now there are new details as to why.

A Clarington woman is facing federal charges for allegedly scamming customers out of millions of dollars.

Federal prosecutors say Donna Brown was scamming dozens of people out of millions of dollars, using the company Budget Finance in New Martinsville.

Brown is charged with one count of wire fraud, one count of mail fraud and money laundering.

She faces 20 years in prison for each charge plus, $250,000 in fines for each charge, totaling 60 years and $750,000. Brown is expected to plea soon.

"She would tell them that she could get them 8 and 12 percent returns and get folks to invest their money with her and ultimately we were dealing with more than 800 accounts in difference sizes totaling around $31 million, and it wasn't true. She wasn't making substantial investments,” U.S. Attorney Benjamin Glassman said.

Glassman says Brown would even show statements to her customers making it appear they were making cash.

He says word spread fast in and around New Martinsville and more people bought into the scam.

He says it's called a "Ponzi scheme."

"Making up statements and sending them back to investors that would say report to show report to show how the investments were doing and all the money they were earning, which was made up,” Glassman said. “What she did was take money from later investors and pay early investors when they demanded money back or interest payments."

To avoid this type of scam, Glassman says to do your research.

He says normally the Northern District of West Virginia would handle this case, but even someone in their office can fall prey to a scam artist.

"My office received a call from the deputy Attorney General of the United States because the Northern District of West Virginia is recusing itself due to one of the victims being in the office,” Glassman said.

Budget Finance Company, once located on Riverview Lane in New Martinsville, abruptly closed in November 2015.

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