Federal officials said an Iron Station man has agreed to plead guilty to mail fraud after a criminal bill of information was filed against him Monday for running a nearly five-year Ponzi scheme that drew in at least $1 million.
C. David Wright, a former school teacher, orchestrated the scheme from August 2008 to March 2013, according to a press release from the United States Attorney’s Office in the state’s Western district.
The defendant is accused of “making a series of false and fraudulent representations, omissions of material facts and deceptive half-truths” in order to swindle victims, the release said.
The 52-year-old Lincoln County man often asked victims to use two cashier’s checks to invest their money, which he told them he would put into a “Commodity Investment Group” and hedge funds and receive a return of between 20 and 30 percent, federal officials said.
Wright met local victims in a Cherryville parking lot while those who lived outside North Carolina mailed him their money, the release said.
The individuals assumed Wright managed the particular investment group, located in Cherryville, and that it owned a set amount of Quick Trip gas stations.
However, federal officials said the defendant did not invest the money but gave it to other victims and used it for personal use, often carrying a large chunk of money in a black duffel bag.
The Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) also filed a civil enforcement action against Wright on Monday.
Court documents showed the defendant misappropriated more than $500,000 in funds owed to victims and that he only maintained less than $1,000 of the money in March.
Federal officials said Wright could receive a sentence of up to two decades in prison, pay as much as $250,000 in fines or both. He has also planned to reimburse those he allegedly scammed.
The State Bureau of Investigation and Postal Inspection Service conducted the investigation, which was prosecuted by Asst. U.S. Attorney Kurt W. Meyers.