Two of the people behind an $850 million Ponzi scheme are due in federal court in Charlotte this week. They're pleading guilty for their roles in defrauding investors worldwide, including more than 1,500 in the Charlotte area.
The U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina alleges that Dawn Wright Olivares and her stepson, Dan Olivares, pocketed at least $10 million through the Ponzi scheme.
You know the phrase robbing Peter to pay Paul? That's what a Ponzi scheme is like. It's similar to a pyramid scheme, in which you dupe new investors to pay earlier ones and keep paying yourself.
The Olivareses did it through a sham online company called Zeekler. They and other unnamed conspirators made it seem like Zeekler was making massive profits off penny auctions and that you could get in on the action by investing in ZeekRewards. They promised a 125-percent return.
The U.S. attorney's office says hundreds of thousands of people around the world bought into the scheme, including more than 1,500 in the Charlotte area. All told, investors lost at least $750 million.
The U.S. attorney announced in December the Olivareses had agreed to plead guilty for their roles. On Wednesday, they'll appear in federal court in Charlotte for their plea hearings.