(CN) - A federal judge ordered a Charlotte, N.C., couple to pay $24 million in restitution and penalties for targeting old people in a $22.5 million Ponzi scam disguised as "off-exchange" foreign currency trades.
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission charged Sidney and Charlotte Hanson in August 2009 for promising retirees or people nearing retirement returns of 8 percent to 24 percent if they rolled their Individual Retirement Accounts into one of the Hansons' fraudulent funds, Queen Shoals, Queen Shoals II and Select Fund LLC.
The Hansons claimed they profitably traded forex on behalf of customers and guaranteed both the principal and the promised interest via "non-depletion" accounts backed by gold and silver bullion. According to the CFTC, the Hansons used most of the money for personal expenses including renting private airplanes and the purchase of an 88-acre farm.
After slapping the Hansons with $24 million in restitution and fines, U.S. District Judge Robert J. Conrad ordered several other defendants, including the investment funds they controlled, to disgorge an additional $23.3 million in ill-gotten gains.
Sydney Hanson, 63, was sentenced in March to 22 years in prison after pleading guilty to securities and mail fraud in 2009.
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