CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A Charlotte couple promised investors their money would be safe in treasury bills, precious metals and foreign currency, and then bilked them out of about $32.5 million, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission alleges in a new civil lawsuit.
According to the SEC's complaint, filed in federal court in the western district of North Carolina, Sidney and Charlotte Hanson solicited about 500 investors at church gatherings and other meetings, persuading them to cash out their retirement funds and invest in private loan agreements that the couple offered through their companies, Queen Shoals Entities.
Through the company's Web site and a sales force of about 45 consultants, the Hansons promised investors yearly returns of 8 to 30 percent, the lawsuit says. They sold about $32.5 million in private loan agreements to investors from August 2006 through June.
The Hansons, who could not be reached for comment, never invested the money as promised, the SEC alleges. Instead, they spent most of it on risky investment opportunities and personal expenses, the suit says.
The couple, who are in their 60s, targeted older investors, “saying all the right things to convince victims to make all the wrong decisions with their retirement savings,” the SEC said.
A federal judge granted the SEC's request to freeze the couple's assets. The Hansons have agreed to settle, without admitting or denying the allegations, by agreeing to court orders and financial penalties to be determined at a later date, the SEC said.
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