CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WJZY) – A federal case involving two 27-year-old men and a $4 million Ponzi scheme resulted in a combined 145-month prison term on Tuesday.
U.S. District Judge Frank Witney announced that Austin Delano Page, of Grover, will serve 97 months in prison followed by two years of supervised release. Brandon Alexander Teague, of Belmont, got a 48-month prison term with two years of supervised release.
The men ran a fake hedge fund out of Kings Mountain.
The operators of a $4 million Ponzi scheme were sentenced to prison Tuesday, announced Dena J. King, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. U.S. District Judge Frank D. Whitney ordered Austin Delano Page, 27, of Grover, N.C., to serve 97 months in prison, followed by two years of supervised release. Both men must also pay restitution of more than $4.1 million.
“The defendants orchestrated an elaborate investment fraud scheme that caused extensive financial harm to their unsuspecting victims, some of whom were at or near retirement age,” said U.S. Attorney Dena King. “Working with our law enforcement counterparts, we will continue to investigate and prosecute scoundrels who cheat and lie their way into their investors’ pockets, only to squander away their victims’ money.”
King said people put faith and their money with Page and Teague. The men created fake documents and promised big payouts with a $16 million brokerage account that was “broke” and had “a balance of under $7.”
Officials said that a check of the brokerage with N.C. Securities Division would have steered clients away from the operation.
The men defrauded hundreds of investors for more than $4 million with their D&T Investment group. The fund invested in securities like Apple. Documents and court hearings stated that the men ran the investment scheme from Oct. 2020 to Dec. 2021. The men did not have licenses or the background to sell securities.
According to court documents, Page was primarily responsible for the “trading” side of the D&T business, while Teague was mainly responsible for the “back office” side of the D&T business.
Page, Teague, and other D&T employees solicited investors while Page and Teague had investors sign documents, like fake contracts. The men promised D&T would guarantee 100% of the investors’ initial investment and that investors would receive 70% of the trading profits. The fake guarantee to unknowing victims came from new investor money to cover the existing investor profits.
To cover up the fraud, Page caused Teague to send victim investors monthly statements that reflected fictitious trading gains, which Page had falsely reported to Teague.
Page created fake screenshots of financial accounts to legitimize the fund’s operations after investors and employees, including Teague, had doubts.
Both men used a large part of the investors’ money to pay big salaries and other compensation to D&T employees, including Page’s family. Page reportedly used that money to pay for personal expenses such as clothing, jewelry, travel, luxury car rentals, and entertainment.
On Dec. 2, 2021, Page and Teague flew to Italy as the scheme fell apart. Page also told D&T employees the company would close. Federal authorities arrested the men on Dec. 31 at JFK Airport in New York when they voluntarily returned to the country.
On April 20, Page pleaded guilty to wire fraud and Teague to securities fraud. They are currently released on bond and must report to the federal Bureau of Prisons to begin serving their prison sentences upon designation of a federal facility.
In today’s announcement, U.S. Attorney King thanked the Securities Division of the North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine F. Marshal, the FBI, and USPIS for their case investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Ryan of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte prosecuted the case.