By Alexa Epitropoulos | firstname.lastname@example.org
An Alexandria woman was sentenced Friday for a fraud scheme that victimized members of a church congregation and other investors, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Virginia.
Grenetta Wells, 48, was sentenced to 30 months in prison for the scheme, which occurred while she was acting as chief operating officer of Micro-Enterprise Management Group (MEMG). The company, based in Virginia, alleged that it was helping poor people in developing countries by providing small, short-term loans to start or expand businesses by working with a network of established micro-finance institutions. She pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud on Jan. 13, 2017.
Wells worked with Terry Wayne Millender, 48, former pastor of Victorious Life Church in Alexandria and chief executive officer of MEMG, and his wife, Brenda Millender, a founding member of MEMG, to solicit investors. The Millenders were convicted in the fraud scheme in December.
Wells and the Millenders jointly lured investors through utilizing the company’s Christian mission, promising guaranteed rates of return and assuring investors the loans’ principal was safe and backed by the assets of MEMG.
The money was used, instead, to conduct risky trading on the foreign exchange currency market and through day trading by Wells, which was done through her own company, Golden Strategies Inc.
Wells also created a website and promotional material for MEMG and helped victims fill out paperwork to set up individual retirement accounts (IRAs) so they could use retirement savings to fund their investments in MEMG.
Wells was ordered by the court to pay $1.3 million in restitution to fraud scheme victims, in addition to her 30-month sentence. The Millenders haven’t been sentenced for their convictions yet.