CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WNCN) — Two North Carolina camper salesmen whose fake hedge fund swindled $4 million from hundreds of investors have pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges, federal prosecutors say.
U.S. Attorney Dena J. King said Wednesday that Austin Delano Page, 26, of Grover and Brandon Alexander Teague, 26, of Belmont entered their pleas in federal court.
King says Page pleaded guilty to wire fraud and faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, while Teague pleaded guilty to securities fraud and could face five years in prison and a fine of $250,000.
Their sentencing date has not yet been set, and following their plea hearings, they were released on bond with home detention and location monitoring.
According to filed plea documents and the hearings, the men defrauded hundreds of investors — some who were near retirement age — of more than $4 million from October 2020 through December 2021 through their Kings Mountain-based organization named D&T Investment Group.
D&T was not a hedge fund and did not hold any securities licenses or registrations, court records indictated, and the men — who prosecutors say sold campers before orchestrating the scheme — neither were licensed to sell securities nor had the background for it.
Contracts the men required investors to sign indicated D&T would guarantee 100 percent of the investors initial investment and the investors would receive 70 percent of the trading profits.
But the money was not guaranteed, and court documents and records indicated those profits actually were Ponzi-style payments from new investors. Prosecutors say they concealed that by sending the investors monthly statements that reflected fake trading gains.
And when investors and employees questioned the company, they created fake screenshots — including one that reflected an account balance of $16 million when the account actually only had $7.
Prosecutors say they used the funds to pay excessive salaries to other employees and Page’s family members, and spent it on clothing, jewelry, travel, car rentals and cash withdrawals.
They traveled to Italy on Dec. 2, 2021, while telling unsuspecting employees that they were closing the company. They were arrested on Dec. 31 at Kennedy Airport in New York City when they returned to the United States.