North Carolina Man Adds To List Of Alleged Schemers Who Bought Jet Skis With Fraud Proceeds; J.V. Huffman Jr. Also Faces Trial On Weapons Charge

J.V. Huffman Jr. Source: Catawba Country Sheriff's Office

It’s not as though alleged fraudster J.V. Huffman Jr. did not have the expensive cars and real estate often associated with Ponzi schemes or financial frauds.

Huffman, jailed awaiting trial in North Carolina on Ponzi and weapons charges, had plenty of those, according to William Walt Pettit, the court-appointed receiver. He had an Aston Martin ($100,000+), three Mercedes (nearly $180,000 combined), and a Prevost motor home (insured against loss for $825,000) , for example. And Huffman had at least 14 parcels or properties, including a $765,000 property in North Carolina and multiple interests in time-shares at Walt Disney World in Orlando.

But Huffman also had jet skis, which oddly seem to have become a signature purchase among operators of alleged Ponzi schemes or financial frauds. Disbarred Florida attorney Scott Rothstein, implicated in an alleged $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme, had jet skis.

Affiliate Strategies Inc., a Kansas company under whose umbrella the shuttered Noobing autosurf fell, had a jet ski. ASI is among a number of companies sued by the Federal Trade Commission and the attorneys general of four states for operating a grant-writing scheme.

Florida-based AdSurfDaily, whose president is implicated by the U.S. Secret Service in a $100 million Ponzi scheme, also had jet skis — two of them. Andy Bowdoin told his members that the jet skis (and a lakefront home) were for their benefit, but the statement was met with anger, the jet skis and Bowdoin’s other marine equipment dismissed derisively as “water toys.”

Huffman’s next court appearance in North Carolina has been delayed until Jan. 25. He also faces a civil prosecution by the SEC, which said his Ponzi scheme began in 1991 and operated for 17 years before collapsing.

The weapons charge was added when guards found a razor blade hidden in Huffman’s Bible in his jail cell. Prosecutors said the alleged financial scheme largely was targeted at Lutherans.

SEC investigators said Huffman and his company — Biltmore Financial Group — gathered as much as $25 million from 500 investors. At first, Huffman told investors he operated a mutual fund.

After the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the ensuing volatility in financial markets, Huffman changed his story, telling investors that he pooled funds to purchase and sell safe mortgages that had strong equity positions and were insured, the SEC said.

“Contrary to his representations, Huffman and Biltmore did not invest the funds as represented,” the SEC said. “Instead, Huffman spent investor funds to subsidize his lavish lifestyle. Returns to investors were paid from money invested by new investors. The purported insurance protecting the investments did not exist and much of the principal has been dissipated or used to purchase real estate for Huffman and/or his wife, expensive automobiles or other luxuries.”

In another claim reminiscent of the AdSurfDaily case, the SEC said Huffman dropped famous acronyms such as “FDIC” to get people to invest with him.

North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine F. Marshall is spearheading the criminal prosecution.

“People who are knowledgeable in the investment industry came to us saying that the
promises being made sounded ‘too good to be true,’” she said, after agents arrested Huffman in November 2008. “In most cases, when an investment sounds too good to be true, it usually is.”

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