Investors are receiving back some of the money back they entrusted with a South Carolina trio dubbed the “3 Hebrew Boys,” currently serving decades in prison for an $82 million scam.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office says roughly 3,800 investors have been sent checks totaling some $19 million, or about 46 cents for every dollar invested. The payouts are the first to victims who say they were fleeced by Joseph Brunson, Timothy McQueen and Tony Pough, formerly of Columbia.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Winston Holiday said the three hoodwinked investors by assuring them they would be able to pay off substantial debt in a relatively short period of time. “They told people that if they gave them certain amounts of money, which were usually in the low thousands, that after anywhere from a year to 18 months that they could be paying off major expenses like their houses, cars, credit card bills, student loans, that kind of thing,” he told Columbia radio station WVOC. “And, of course, it just turned out to be a Ponzi scheme – that they were just using the money that was coming in to pay people who had previously given them money.”
Holliday says the “3 Hebrew Boys” used investors’ money to buy a private jet, luxury suites at stadiums for the Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons, a fleet of cars, homes in Florida, condos in Atlanta, a $900,000 party bus and more.
Holliday said many of those investors had lost significant amounts. “We talked to people who had given $50,000, $75,000, $100-thousand…somewhere around there. So it was definitely a hardship. And it was a wide variety of backgrounds. A number of people were identified as part of the military, as well as a lot of folks that were in churches.”
All three men are currently appealing their 2009 convictions on 58 counts each of mail fraud, money laundering, and other charges. A court-appointed receiver says more payouts are planned to investors.
David Waterman of Columbia affiliate WVOC contributed to this report