U.S. Attorney's Office
District of South Carolina
(803) 929-3000
March 26, 2015

Chicago Attorney Guilty of Large Scale Fraudulent Investment Scheme

GREENVILLE, SC—United States Attorney Bill Nettles announced that Kathleen Niew, of Chicago, Illinois, pled guilty in Columbia, South Carolina, today to three counts of Wire Fraud in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343. Niew faces a possible sentence on each count of up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.00. The plea was accepted by United States District Judge Mary G. Lewis, who will sentence Niew after an investigation by the United States Probation Office.

Mr. Nettles stated that the case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) along with Assistant United States Attorney David C. Stephens who prosecuted the case. At the guilty plea hearing, Mr. Stephens advised the Court of the following facts.

The FBI working out of Greenville, South Carolina, has conducted a decade long undercover operation into persons offering bogus investments commonly referred to as High Yield Investment Programs. In these schemes, victims are told that there are secret European medium term note trading programs that are risk free and yield returns of as much as 100% per month. Such trading programs, of course, do not exist; however, the “pitch” can be so convincing that the U.S. Department of the Treasury has documented tens of millions of dollars of losses every day.

Niew was one of over 150 persons caught in the undercover operation. She was recorded on the telephone offering one of these bogus investments to persons she believed were potential investors in South Carolina. Niew then traveled to South Carolina and met in person with the investors who she was led to believe controlled the investment funds of a large national charity. The amount that she sought to obtain was $100 Million. Unbeknownst to Niew the persons she was dealing with were FBI Special Agents pretending to be potential investors and her entire fraudulent presentation was being videotaped.

Mr. Stephens also advised the Court that in addition to the above-described attempted fraud, it is believed that Niew stole millions of dollars from actual investors and the names of those persons and their exact losses continue to be investigated. Mr. Nettles asked that anyone who has had financial dealings with Niew and lost money in those dealings to please contact his Victim-Witness Coordinator at (803) 929-3000 or Mr. Stephens at (864) 282-2100.

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