A California woman conned investors by lying that late Kobe Bryant wanted his daughters to be the "face" of her supposed denim venture, federal prosecutors said on Tuesday. This was one of the many lies that Carolyn Marie Jones used to run a fraud scheme after she was released for completing a nearly seven-year prison sentence stemming from another $15 million bank fraud case.
On Monday, a district judge sentenced Jones to 20 months in prison for swindling people out of money and admitting to having breached the terms of her supervised release. In the latest fraud scheme, Jones portrayed herself as a successful owner of a denim company and well-connected with high-profile people.
She falsely claimed that LeBron James offered her $500,000 investment for her supposed denim jeans company. She also lied about being in touch with Bryant's family after the helicopter crash that killed him and his daughter Gianna Bryant. Jones falsely stated that Bryant wanted his daughters to be the "face" of her denim brand, prosecutors said.
"In the wake of the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant and one of his daughters, [Jones] used their deaths as a way to prop up her company and bolster her carefully-crafted image of being a well-connected entrepreneur," according to court documents.
Prosecutors said Jones lied to investors that celebrities from the Kardashian and Jenner families, Taylor Swift, Floyd Mayweather, Chrissy Teigen, Will Smith, and Jada Pinkett Smith supported her denim brand. She obtained a $13,000 investment by scamming the investors. Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald warned Jones that Monday's sentencing was her "final chance" and if she violated her supervised release, he would hand her the "harshest sentence" allowed by law.
Previous scam in 2015
In February 2015, Jones was sentenced to 79-months in prison for running two fraud schemes of "epic proportions" related to her company, DDI — sometimes known as Diamond Decisions Inc. — that sold high-end jeans under the labels Privacywear and PRVCY Premium. At the time, her scam resulted in a loss of over $15 million to Union Bank of California and several investors.
"When the court issued an order authorizing Union Bank to seize the company's assets, Jones filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition in February 2010 that listed the bank as the sole creditor. In the following months, Jones concealed DDI assets, specifically about $120,000 that she had received from DDI customers," prosecutors said at the time.