A Lafayette woman admitted in federal court Tuesday to defrauding investors out of $1.27 million, a scam in which prosecutors say victims were led to believe they were part owners in an exotic skin products business.

Instead, Catherine Doucet Romero used the money to pay personal bills and the expenses of an unrelated business, U.S. Attorney Stephanie Finley said.

Romero, 52, pleaded guilty to one count each of wire fraud and money laundering.

Finley, in a news release, said Romero admitted in her guilty plea that she tricked investors into believing “that their money was going to be used to purchase a manufacturing facility and tannery for exotic skin products, to include alligator and stingray.”

The scheme played out during a period between March 2007 to July 2009, Finley said.

“Ms. Romero conned individuals into believing that they were investing in a unique Louisiana business, knowing full well that she was going to divert their investment to her personal use,” Finley said.

Romero faces 20 years in prison and five years of supervised release for the wire fraud conviction, and 10 years in prison and three years of supervised release for money laundering. She also faces a fine up to $250,000.

U.S. District Judge Richard Haik did not set a sentencing date. The FBI investigated the case prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Luke Walker.