Two North Carolina Men Plead Guilty For Orchestrating $4 Million Ponzi Scheme

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Authorities say two founders of a fake North Carolina “hedge fund” appeared in court on Wednesday and plead guilty to federal charges for orchestrating a $4 million Ponzi scheme.

Austin Delano Page, 26, of Grover, N.C. plead guilty to wire fraud and Brandon Alexander Teague, 26, of Belmont, N.C. plead guilty to securities fraud, according to a news release.

According to filed plea documents and plea hearings, from October 2020 to December 2021, Page and Teague engaged in an investment scheme that defrauded hundreds of investors of more than $4 million.

Authorities say defendants falsely represented to victims that Page and Teague were running a hedge fund in Kings Mountain, N.C., D&T Investment Group, that invested in various securities, including stock of well-known companies like Apple.

On the contrary, authorities say D&T was not a hedge fund and it did not hold any security licenses or registrations.

Page and Teague were also not licensed to sell securities and did not have a background associated with the sale of securities.

Authorities say in fact, the duo sold campers prior to orchestrating the investment scheme.

According to court documents, Page and Teague required investors to sign an investment contract with D&T.

Authorities say these documents contained false information including that D&T would guarantee 100 percent of the investors’ initial investment, and that investors would get 70 percent of the trading profits.

In reality, the investors’ money was not guaranteed, and the “profits” investors got were Ponzi-style payments, aka the defendants used new investors’ money to pay existing investors, according to a news release.

To cover up the fraud, authorities say Page and Teague sent victim investors monthly statements that showed fake trading gains.

When certain investors and D&T employees got suspicious of the company’s legitimacy, Page created fake screenshots of various financial accounts that showed inflated D&T balances.

Authorities say for example, Page created a fake screenshot of a D&T brokerage account that reflected a balance of over $16,000,000, when in reality the account had a balance of less than $7.

In addition to making Ponzi payments to investors, a significant portion of the funds were used to pay excessive salaries and other compensation to D&T employees, including to members of Page’s family.

Authorities say for example, Page paid several company employees annual salaries of over $100,000 and also paid certain employees several thousand dollars each for getting the D&T company logo tattooed on their bodies.

The defendants also squandered victims’ money on personal expenses such as clothing, jewelry, travel, luxury car rentals, and to make cash withdrawals, according to a news release.

Authorities say on December 2nd, 2021, as the fake scheme was collapsing, Page and League traveled to Italy.

On the same day, Page told D&T employees, who did not know the company was a fraud, that they would be closing.

Police arrested the pair on New Year’s Eve at JFK Airport in New York upon their voluntary return to the United States.

Both defendants were released on bond with home detention and location monitoring following the plea hearings, according to a news release.

Authorities say Page plead guilty to one count of wire fraud, which carries a maximum prison term of 20 years and a $250,000 fine, and Teague plead guilty to one count of securities fraud, which carries a maximum prison term of five years and a $250,000 fine.

A sentencing date for the defendants has not yet been set.

This is a developing story.

Check back for updates.