Asheville Man Is Indicted For $13.5 Million Ponzi Scheme
The Defendant Allegedly Defrauded More Than 23 Victims, Including Some at, or Near, Retirement Age
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – A federal grand jury sitting in Charlotte has returned a criminal indictment against Hal H. Brown Jr., 69, of Asheville, N.C., charging him with securities fraud, wire fraud and transactional money laundering, for orchestrating a $13.7 million investment scheme, announced Andrew Murray, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.
John A. Strong, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Charlotte Division, joins U.S. Attorney Murray in making today’s announcement.
According to allegations contained in the indictment, from at least 2012 through September 2019, Brown fraudulently obtained more than $13.5 million from at least 23 victims, some of whom were at, or near, retirement age, by engaging in an investment scheme through his company Oodles Inc. and its various affiliates (collectively “OODLES”). As alleged in the indictment, to induce victims to invest their money, Brown falsely represented that OODLES owned hundreds of millions of dollars in intellectual property, namely family entertainment shows and movies. As part of the scheme, Brown repeatedly lied to victims about the imminent sale of those intellectual properties to various well-known media companies. To perpetuate the fraud, the indictment alleges that Brown developed marketing material seeking investments or loans for OODLES that claimed large returns on funds invested or lent to the company.
As alleged in the indictment, to convince victims the scheme was legitimate and to appease investors who sought an explanation about delays in payouts, Brown provided victims with a number of fraudulent and misleading statements and fictitious information, including fake bank statements and falsified company agreements, among others.
Brown used a substantial part of victim money on personal expenses unrelated to purported OODLES transactions, and to perpetuate the fraud by making payments to existing investors from funds contributed by new investors, commonly referred to as “Ponzi” payments.
The securities fraud charge carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years and a $5 million fine. The wire fraud charge carries a maximum prison term of 20 years and a $250,000 fine. The transactional money laundering charge carries a maximum prison term of 10 years and a fine of not more than twice the amount of criminally derived property in the transaction or $250,000.
The details contained in the indictment are allegations. The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The FBI’s Charlotte Field Office is leading the investigation.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Daniel Ryan and Mark Odulio of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte are prosecuting the case.
In March 2019, Andrew Murray, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina, announced the Office’s Elder Justice Initiative, which aims to combat elder financial exploitation by expanding efforts to investigate and prosecute financial scams that target seniors; educate older adults on how to identify scams and avoid becoming victims of financial fraud; and promote greater coordination with law enforcement partners. For more information please visit: https://edit.justice.gov/usao-wdnc/elder-justice-initiative.