Gambling addict businesswoman scams investors out of $5.6 million.
Alena Marie Pastuch was a successful businesswoman with several companies, focused on the development of anti-fraud and child protection software. Pastuch misappropriated her clients’ investments, to the tune of $5.6 million. She deceived her investors by telling them that there was a trust fund, guaranteeing them “zero risk”. Between 2007 and 2009, Pastuch’s clients invested millions of dollars in the development of anti-fraud and child protection software.
In 2010, Pastuch’s clients found that their money had disappeared. They were told that the majority of the money had been spent on marketing, operations, and staffing overheads. However, investigators traced the funds and found that only around $500,000 could be accounted for by business expenses.
The remainder of the $5.6 million had seemingly been used for Pastuch’s own expenses. Most withdrawals had been made at casino ATMs. Pastuch had used $1.9 million to buy memorabilia and collectibles, and to make eBay purchases. She admitted that she also used $87,000 to purchase a house. Pastuch claimed that she took the money by way of a retainer and a shareholders’ loan. Pastuch is a compulsive gambler and had, in fact, lost most of the money in casinos.
Pastuch has been under bail conditions since 2014. Her trial is ongoing. Only $65,000 of the $5.6 million has thus far been returned to investors. Pastuch states that she has been unemployed since the case went public. She claims to have only $23.45 in her bank account, and to be unable to afford a lawyer.