Four suspects in California face multiple charges after setting up a real estate investment company that bilked vulnerable investors out of $2.3 million, California Attorney General Kamala Harris said Thursday.

The suspects – Philip Lester, 65; Ellen Lester, 65; Susan Lafert, 58; and Jonathan Blinder, 58 – are accused of using their Gold Country Lenders platform to sell securities backed by interests in real estate projects that never materialized.

The Golden Country Lenders platform allegedly promised investors that their interests would be secured by first or second deeds of trust on the property.

The suspects face charges of securities fraud, conspiracy and elder abuse.

Harris' office claims the group operated a ponzi scheme that promised investors 8% to 12% returns. Rather than the money going towards real estate development, the accused used funds from new investors to make payments to older clients.