I Did It is the story of Gina Champion-Cain, the mastermind behind the largest woman-led Ponzi scheme in US history—$400 million. This real-life story includes a multitude of participants, banks, hedge funds, egomaniacs, and small-time crooks, all fueled by greed, stupidity, and a keen desire to look the other way. And even when they were looking in the right direction, all of these people and entities saw nothing. Gina was the Penn and Teller of misdirection, acting with caring behavior to other people (while bilking her investors), creating philanthropic endeavors and single-mindedly pursuing her dream of building an empire, taking it public, and cashing out all the investors.
In August 2019, Gina’s seven-year program of selling phony liquor license loans came to an end when the SEC, the US Attorney’s Office, and the FBI filed suit and shut it down. In San Diego, Gina, then fifty-four, was an icon. To the outside world, this beautiful, charismatic woman looked as if she had succeeded in a male-dominated good old boys club—building an empire that included real estate, restaurants, and retail; she was a guest economics commentator for the San Diego Union-Tribune; she served on prestigious corporate and nonprofit boards. The City of San Diego even honored her with her own Gina Champion-Cain Day. She cooked dinner for her husband Steve, walked the dogs on the beach, and was a role model for young women. But in reality, her empire was a house of cards funded with money from a financial fraud.