Tuesday, September 8, 2009
The SEC announced fraud charges and an asset freeze against the perpetrators of a Charlotte, N.C.-based investment scheme that bilked $32.5 million from approximately 500 investors by falsely promising extraordinarily high returns. The SEC alleges that Sidney S. Hanson and his wife Charlotte M. Hanson solicited investors at church gatherings and in other face-to-face meetings, persuading them to cash out their retirement funds and invest in so-called private loan agreements that the Charlotte couple offered through a dozen companies they controlled (collectively, Queen Shoals Entities). Through their Web site and a widespread sales force of at least 45 "consultants," the Hansons falsely promised investors that the investment contracts they were offering would generate them yearly returns ranging from 8 to 30 percent, and that their funds would be safe in a diversified portfolio of treasury bills, precious metals, and foreign currency. According to the SEC's complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, the Hansons and their network of consultants offered and sold approximately $32.5 million in private loan agreements to investors from August 2006 to June 2009.
Chief United States District Judge Robert J. Conrad, Jr. granted the SEC's request for an asset freeze and other emergency relief for investors on Sept. 3, 2009.