Gina Palasini was arrested last month in Palm Springs, California as the list of people who claim they lost money by unknowingly participating in a Ponzi scheme operated by the Mississippi fugitive continues to grow. Palasini will be extradited to Mississippi on felony charges for bad checks and then sent to Wayne County for sentencing on a felony false pretense charge to which she pleaded guilty in December 2013. She had been out on a court order to reimburse her victims, but she failed to do so. While it is unknown exactly who many victims were involved, sources indicate that the number is well over a dozen. Many know now that they are victims, while others still do not.
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service has been on her case for years, monitoring money come in and out of her bank accounts to build a fraud case against her. Palasini had run a number of businesses purporting to assist senior citizens acquire Medicaid or veterans benefits. Many of these instances involved clients giving her their life savings. Giving her the money had two purposes: with little or no assets, clients qualified for government benefits they otherwise would not have received, and they thought Palasini put their money into interest-earning accounts from which they could withdraw cash at any time. Upon a client’s death, designated beneficiaries would get the assets.
Palasini allegedly would use one client’s money to pay for withdrawals made by other clients. But authorities believe she spent most of the cash on herself and on expensive gifts, including automobiles and vacations, which she gave to family and friends. When she could not afford to pay a client, she made up excuses or simply wrote bad checks that bounced. Some clients threatened to sue her. At this point she would pay them back in installments, but these payments usually stopped after only a few months. Other victims allege their monetary losses pale in comparison to the difficulty Palasini caused them with Medicaid or the Department of Veterans Affairs. Investigators say she jeopardized several of her clients’ ability to obtain government benefits by withholding paperwork or using enrollment tactics that amount to fraud.
If you or someone you know has lost money as a result of an investment or Ponzi scheme, please contact Richard Frankowski at 888-741-7503 to discuss your potential legal remedies or complete the contact form.