A North Hills real estate agent and self-described investor faces trial in September on charges she ran a Ponzi scheme that conned dozens of victims out of at least $1 million, it was announced Thursday.
Celia Gallardo, 42, was arrested Wednesday by FBI agents and charged in a 16-count federal indictment with wire and mail fraud, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Gallardo is accused of bilking investors who put money into her purported year-long real estate investment program.
Prosecutors allege she told investors she would purchase condominiums in other states and that the properties would yield extremely high rates of return in very short time periods -- as much as 100 percent return in only 30 days.
Instead, the indictment alleges, Gallardo spent most of the money on personal expenses, including her home, travel, cash withdrawals and to repay earlier investors to perpetuate the scheme.
Victims in California and elsewhere lost more than $1 million, prosecutors said.
At an arraignment hearing Wednesday, Gallardo was ordered released on a $75,000 bond. The case was assigned to U.S. District Judge Dean D. Pregerson for trial on Sept. 4.