CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Two Charlotte-area men will serve time in federal prison after pleading guilty to financial crimes tied to a $4 million Ponzi scheme they ran for more than a year.
On Tuesday, the Department of Justice announced Austin Delano Page and Brandon Alexander Teague had pled guilty to one charge each tied to the scheme. Both 27-year-old men ran a fraudulent hedge fund based out of Kings Mountain, and the DOJ said they were ordered to pay more than $4.1 million in restitution.
Page, of Grover, was sentenced to 97 months in prison for wire fraud. Teague, of Belmont, was given a 48-month sentence for securities fraud. Both men will be under supervised release for two years when their sentences are served.
The DOJ said Page and Teague both ran a fraudulent hedge found called D&T Investment Group based out of Kings Mountain. The duo, along with other employees, reportedly targeted investors with claims the fund would guarantee 100% of initial investments and 70% of the trading profits.
However, Page and Teague did not guarantee that money and instead made what the DOJ called Ponzi-style payments, using new investors' money to pay existing customers. The fraud was largely covered up with monthly statements that reflected false gains. The DOJ noted Page falsely reported the gains to Teague, and that some of the investors affected were at or near retirement age.
When investors, other employees, and even Teague questioned the legitimacy of the fund, the DOJ reports Page made fake screenshots of various financial accounts that reflected inflated D&T balances. However, both men spent a large portion of investors' money on excessive salaries for their employees, including members of Page's family.
The DOJ also said Page used that money for personal expenses, including clothing, jewelry, travel, luxury car rentals, and entertainment.
The scheme started collapsing in early December 2021, however. Teague and Page reportedly traveled to Italy on Dec. 2, and Page told D&T employees the fund would be closing. The DOJ notes none of the employees were aware D&T was a fraud.
Both Page and Teague were arrested at JFK Airport in New York City on New Year's Eve when they voluntarily returned to the United States.
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