United States Attorney Anne M. Tompkins
Western District of North Carolina
Defendant Allegedly Defrauded Over 200 Investors
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The operator of a $44 million Ponzi scheme that defrauded more than 200 investors has been indicted on federal charges, announced Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. A federal grand jury sitting in Charlotte returned the criminal indictment on Wednesday, December 18, 2013, charging Daniel H. Williford, 55, of Statesville, N.C. with one count of securities fraud, one count of wire fraud, and five counts of money laundering. The indictment also includes a forfeiture allegation seeking a money judgment in the amount of $44,000,000.
U.S. Attorney Tompkins is joined in making today’s announcement by John A. Strong, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
“For those fraudsters who have not gotten the message yet, I am committed to prosecuting financial crimes and going after those who take money from victims with fake promises. Let me make it simple: you rip people off, you get indicted,” said U.S. Attorney Tompkins.
“For years, Daniel Williford swindled hundreds of people, including his own co-workers out of their hard-earned money. While most people struggle to afford college, he paid those expenses using cash from his investors. Now he will be held accountable for his actions because of the agents and prosecutors who worked so diligently to bring him to justice,” said John A. Strong, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in North Carolina.
According to allegations contained in the indictment, from January 2007 through July 2013, Williford induced over 200 investors in Charlotte and elsewhere to invest over $44 million, by promising his victims their money would be invested in wireless internet equipment, internet towers, and other facilities and companies. Instead of investing the money, the indictment alleges, Williford used it to run a Ponzi-style scheme and to fund his personal lifestyle. According to the indictment, during the course of the fraud, Williford invested only $7.7 million of the victims’ money as promised. The indictment alleges that Williford used approximately $32 million of the investor’s money to cover personal expenses and to pay some of his victims supposed “profits” on their investments. However, these payouts came from funds contributed by new investors, known as “Ponzi” payments.
Williford has been ordered by the U.S. District Court to appear on a summons for his initial appearance, which will be scheduled by the Court. If convicted, Williford faces a maximum of 20 years in prison each for the securities fraud and wire fraud counts, and a maximum of 10 years imprison for each of the money laundering counts. The securities fraud count carries a maximum fine of $5,000,000, the wire fraud count a maximum fine of $250,000, and each of the money laundering counts carries a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the amount of criminally derived proceeds.
The details contained in this indictment are allegations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The FBI investigated the case. The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kurt Meyers of the Western District of North Carolina.
The President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes. For more information on the task force, visit www.stopfraud.gov.