$25 million lost in Catawba investment fraud
NEWTON, N.C. -- Court documents say most of the money investors gave to J.V. Huffman, Jr., is gone, but they are trying to recoup whatever assets they can find.
Huffman owns Biltmore Financial Group and was arrested last week for allegedly stealing client's money.
Investigators say Huffman's lavish lifestyle -- from homes to rental and vacation properties, to expensive cars, fancy computers and luxury items for his wife -- is the result of a 17-year-long Ponzi scheme, which raised $25 million from 500 investors.
A Ponzi scheme promises investors high returns. It pays people back with money paid in by other investors, not from any real business.
Court documents say Huffman promised high returns from mortgages, but never invested people's money. Court records also show Huffman told investors he insured their money, but that insurance didn't exist.
Huffman's business, Biltmore Financial Group, wasn't registered with the state. Investigators say he created and sent fake documents to customers.
Investors, many of them retired, say they gave Huffman tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars and he preferred and pressed people to deal in cash.
Those investors say they trusted Huffman and that he was highly-regarded and new business often came word-of-mouth about his high rate of returns.
All of which authorities say was a big lie.
The family's assets have been frozen. Authorities are trying to recover whatever assets they can, sell them and try to give people some money back.
Investors we found did not want to appear on camera because they say they are upset and embarrassed. They are expected to show up at Huffman's bail hearing Dec. 1 in an attempt to keep him in jail.
Right now, Huffman faces four counts of security fraud totaling $634,000. Authorities say more charges are likely.