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Latest Enforcement News

  • (2022-04-27) Founders Of Fake "Hedge Fund," Austin Delano Page and Brandon Alexander Teague, Plead Guilty To Federal Charges For Orchestrating A $4 Million Ponzi Scheme. For more information, see this press release.
  • (2022-04-22) Two Men, Marlin Hershey and Dana Bradley, Are Facing Federal Charges In Connection With Multi-Million Dollar Investment Scheme. Click here for details.
  • (2022-02-08) Case Against Former Forsyth County Investment Adviser, Russell Joseph Mutter, Concludes with Guilty Plea, Lengthy Sentence. Click here for more details.
  • (2021-11-15) Raleigh real estate developer, Joshua Matthew Houchins, 36, sentenced to a decade in prison for his role in a real estate Ponzi scheme and for firearm possession charges. See this press release.
  • (2021-04-05) Anthony Wayne March, 49, of Wake Forest, NC, was sentenced to 135 months for wire fraud for his role in an $8.1 million Ponzi scheme. He was also ordered to pay $6,040,965.00 in restitution. For more details, please see this press release.
  • (2021-03-15) Charles Gilbert Murphy, a serial fraudster from Apex, NC, was sent back to federal prison for an investment scam involving impersonation of a mayor, professor, and a government agency. For more information, see this press release.
  • (2020-09-08) A federal grand jury returned a superseding indictment charging Joshua Matthew Houchins, 36, of Sanford, NC, with fraud, money laundering, obstruction of justice and firearms offenses. The charges were announced today in federal court (see press release). The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the North Carolina Secretary of State are investigating the case. The Wake County Sheriff’s Office, Apex Police Department, and Sanford Police Department, also provided assistance. Assistant U.S. Attorney William M. Gilmore is prosecuting the case. An indictment is merely an accusation. The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
  • (2020-08-13) Graham, N.C. Man Is Sentenced To More Than Five Years For $1.1 Million Investment Scheme. (Press Release.)
  • (2020-08-03) Anthony Wayne March, 49, of Wake Forest, NC, pleaded guilty today to wire fraud for his role in an $8.1 million Ponzi scheme. For more details, please see this press release.
  • (2020-06-11) Joseph Maurice Deberry, a/k/a Joseph Maurice Dewberry, 56, of Charlotte, appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge David S. Cayer yesterday and pleaded guilty to wire fraud, for orchestrating an investment scheme that defrauded victims of hundreds of thousands of dollars, announced Andrew Murray, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. For more information, see this press release.
  • (2020-05-26) A federal grand jury indictment was unsealed today revealing that Joshua Matthew Houchins, 36, of Sanford, NC, has been charged with fraud and money laundering (see press release). The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the North Carolina Secretary of State are investigating the case and Assistant U.S. Attorney William M. Gilmore is prosecuting the case. An indictment is merely an accusation. The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
  • (2020-03-31) NC Secretary of State Offers Tips to Avoid COVID-19 Related Investment Scams
  • (2019-11-21) *UPDATE: See the information at 2020-08-03 above.* United States Attorney Robert J. Higdon, Jr. announced that a federal grand jury had returned an Indictment charging ANTHONY WAYNE MARCH, 48, of Wake Forest, North Carolina, with one count of Securities Fraud; three counts of Wire Fraud; one count of Bankruptcy Fraud; one count of Obstruction of Bankruptcy Case; three counts of False Oaths; and four counts of Money Laundering. The indictment follows an investigation by the NC Secretary of State’s Securities Division and the IRS Criminal Investigation Division. For more information, click here.

Cease & Desist Orders

A summary cease & desist order is issued by the Securities Division when it appears that ongoing activity violates the North Carolina Securities Act or the North Carolina Investment Advisers Act and poses the threat of irreparable harm to the investing public. The cease & desist order commands those who receive it to stop any further violations and to comply with the requirements of the securities laws. At the time of issuance of a summary order, the persons named in the order have not had the opportunity to respond to its allegations. The order notifies those persons that they may request a hearing on whether the allegations are true. If no hearing is requested, the Division will issue a final order confirming the allegations as true. A final order terminates the controversy between the parties and concludes the issues in the proceeding, unless and until it is vacated or set aside.

Criminal Enforcement
& Administrative Actions


On April 27, 2022, the founders of a fake “hedge fund” appeared in court today and pleaded guilty to federal charges for orchestrating a $4 million Ponzi scheme, announced Dena J. King, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. Austin Delano Page, 26, of Grover, N.C., pleaded guilty to wire fraud, and Brandon Alexander Teague, 26, of Belmont, N.C., pleaded guilty to securities fraud. U.S. Magistrate Judge David C. Keesler accepted the defendants’ guilty pleas. North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine F. Marshall, Robert R. Wells, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Charlotte Division, and Tommy D. Coke, Inspector in Charge of the Atlanta Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), which oversees Charlotte, join U.S. Attorney King in making today’s announcement. According to filed plea documents and the plea hearings, from October 2020 to December 2021, Page and Teague engaged in an investment scheme that defrauded hundreds of investors, some of whom were at or near retirement age, of more than $4 million. Court documents show that the defendants falsely represented to victims that Page and Teague were running a hedge fund in Kings Mountain, N.C., D&T Investment Group (D&T), that invested in various securities, including stock of well-known companies like Apple. Contrary to representations made to victim investors, D&T was not a hedge fund and it did not hold any securities licenses or registrations. Also, Page and Teague were not licensed to sell securities and did not have a background associated with the sale of securities. In fact, prior to orchestrating the investment scheme the defendants sold campers. For more information, please see this press release.

On April 22, 2022, two Cornelius, North Carolina residents are facing federal charges in connection with a multi-million dollar investment scheme, announced Dena J. King, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. A federal grand jury returned a criminal indictment this week against Marlin Hershey and Dana Bradley, both 52, charging them with mail and wire fraud conspiracy, mail fraud, securities fraud, and money laundering conspiracy. The indictment was unsealed this morning following Hershey’s appearance in court. North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine F. Marshall and Robert R. Wells, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Charlotte Division, join U.S. Attorney King in making today’s announcement. According to allegations contained in the indictment, from approximately 2009 to 2021, Hershey and Bradley induced dozens of victims to invest millions of dollars in unregistered securities offerings, promoted by the defendants through Performance Holdings and other entities controlled by the defendants and other individuals, including Performance Retire on Rentals, LLC, Distressed Lending Fund, LCC, Moteng Funding, LLC and Southeast Lot Acquisitions, LLC, among others. For more information, please see this press release.

On February 8, 2022, a multi-year investigation led by law enforcement agents with the North Carolina Secretary of State’s Securities Division with the assistance of the US Postal Inspection Service ended with Forsyth County Superior Court Judge David Hall sentencing Russell Joseph Mutter to a minimum of 16 years, 3 months and a maximum of 22 years, 5 months in prison for a scam in which 12 victims – most of them elderly – lost over $3.3 million. Mutter was charged with 41 counts of Investment Adviser Fraud, Financial Exploitation of an Older Adult, and Obtaining Property by False Pretenses. Judge Hall consolidated those charges into three Class C felony counts for sentencing purposes. Investigators say Mutter defrauded 12 victims in Forsyth County and outside of North Carolina – many of them elderly – out of $3,339,047.23 between January of 2009 and December of 2017. Mutter removed funds from his clients’ accounts without their authorization, invested some of his clients’ funds in high risk securities without their knowledge, and misused client funds. When these speculative investments failed, Mutter sought to hide the losses by fabricating fraudulent account statements. (See Press Release). The Secretary of State’s Securities Division issued a temporary Cease and Desist Order on February 27, 2018 (see the information on that date or click here) prohibiting Mutter from operating RJM Financial, and issued a Final Order on April 17, 2018 (see the information on that date or click here) permanently revoking his license to act as an investment adviser in North Carolina.

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