NORTH CAROLINA: Teen Allegedly Swindled Senior Citizens In ‘Stark Innovations’ Scam That Purportedly Sold Overseas ‘Electronic Consumer Goods In Bulk’

David Alan Topping. Source: Brunswick County mugshot.

David Alan Topping. Source: Brunswick County mugshot.

A North Carolina teenager who allegedly swindled senior citizens in an investment scam known as Stark Innovations was arrested yesterday, North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine F. Marshall said.

Bond for the suspect, David Alan Topping, 19, of Oak Island, was set at $250,000. The Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office assisted with the case.

“I am glad the citizens of Brunswick County will no longer be victimized by this individual’s deceit,” said Brunswick County Sheriff John Ingram V.

Topping was charged with felony securities fraud  and  felony solicitation to obtain property by false pretense. He also was charged with a misdemeanor count of the latter.

The scam gathered more than $100,000 investigators said.

Investigators said that Topping already was on probation for previous thefts. Those cases  “involved felony convictions related to larceny and motor vehicle theft,” and Topping did not tell his Stark Innovations investors about them.

Stark Innovations purported to be a company that “bought and shipped electronic consumer goods in bulk from overseas and sold them at a markup in the U.S.,” Marshall’s office said.

“Investors told investigators that Topping said they could earn 6.5-percent interest per month with no risk to their principal,” Marshall’s office said.

The scheme allegedly traded on Facebook and LinkedIn, investigators said.

Scams regularly use social media to build heads of steam, according to regulators.

“Calling our Securities Division would have revealed that Mr. Topping was never licensed to sell securities, and that in itself should always raise a huge red flag for potential investors,” Marshall said.

A Facebook site that appears to be associated with Stark Innovations implies that the company was headquartered in a skyscraper in a bustling city. Other photos, however, suggest that Stark Innovations was renovating a trailer and turning it into a headquarters.

“Hard at work renovating out [sic] new building!” the Facebook site roars in a post dated Aug. 27. “Will be completed in three months! Come in and talk to us about investing with the highest interest rate anywhere!”

The site also prompts visitors to Check out our newly designed site for Stark Card! The only card you can earn a 2.12% monthly interest rate.”

“We believe that among Mr. Topping’s victims were retirees, some of whom invested tens of thousands of dollars in his scheme that they may well never get back,” Marshall said.

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