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In all, the self-styled preservation expert solicited investments for projects on 171 properties; no work was ever performed on 98 of those. Prosecutors said Brady’s conduct was as bad as they have ever seen in a Rhode Island fraud case. Brady even continued her scheming while incarcerated and awaiting sentencing, according to a February 6 sentencing memorandum. Her misconduct included making more than 200 unauthorized phone calls from prison using other inmates’ personal identification numbers.

Investigators said Brady’s case is a cautionary tale for anyone considering a get-rich-quick scheme. Her victims thought she was their friend and that she was doing them a favor—letting them in on something too good to pass up. But in this case, it was all too good to be true.

IRS Agent Homsi said Brady’s affluent friends were just as taken in as those who could least afford it: “Oftentimes, these are people who are very successful in the business world. And they would say, ‘If it wasn’t Monique, I would have done much more due diligence.’ But they just had that implicit trust in her.”

Meanwhile, the investments were paying for Brady’s extravagances, including a $9,400 monthly mortgage; trips to the tropics, Europe, multiple Super Bowls; a luxury shoe collection; and elective plastic surgery that she paid for in cash.

It wasn’t until the scheme fell apart that its breadth became apparent. Evidently, Brady encouraged secrecy among her investors—another common ploy of scam artists and Ponzi schemes. She eschewed talking business in social settings, said FBI Special Agent Daigler. Potential investors might have seen that as a sign of class, while others might see a potential red flag.

“I guess if somebody tells you to keep a secret, always be weary of why you have to keep it a secret,” Daigler said.

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