CHARLOTTE, N.C. (CN) – The SEC froze the accounts of a Charlotte couple and charged them with defrauding 500 investors of $32.5 million. Sidney and Charlotte Hanson “solicited investors at church gatherings” and persuaded them “to cash out their retirement funds and invest in so-called private loan agreements” through a dozen companies the Hansons controls, the SEC said.
The Hansons and their Queen Shoals companies promised annual returns of 8 to 30 percent and claimed to have a sales force of at least 45 “consultants,” the SEC said.
But the Hansons – 62 and 61 – spent very little of the money as they promised, but swiped some for themselves, paid some to their “consultants,” and used some to pay off old, failed business ventures, the SEC said.
“As senior citizens themselves, the Hansons knew exactly how to appeal to other older investors, saying all the right things to convince victims to make all the wrong decisions with their retirement savings,” said Cheryl J. Scarboro, SEC associate director of enforcement.