Nearly $1 million lost in investment scam


A scam artist is behind bars after swindling nearly $1 million out of susceptible investors.  He devised an elaborate scheme and even appeared on TV  as an investment "expert".

"I felt guilty. I felt ashamed, I felt angry. I felt embarrassed," said Barbara after she lost more than $90,000 in the investment scheme.

She explained, "We received a mass mailing postcard in the mail from a gentleman who wanted to know if we were happy with our retirement plan."

The flyer said  "Helping you avoid IRA distribution mistakes." The company slogan was,"We haven't lost a dime in the recession - want to know how?"

Barbara's husband, who was in failing health, decided to meet with Casey Charles.  Charles has appeared in a money management TV program in Baltimore, Maryland.

"This was a time when stocks were down and most people were unhappy with what they had, so he just wanted to see what someone else might suggest," said Barbara.

She and her husband decided to invest with Charles. A short time later her husband passed away.

"I am responsible for my own problems but I really was not capable of making good decisions at that point," said Barbara.

Charles claimed to be investing Barbara's money and sent fictitious promissory notes to her as proof.  But that wasn't the reality.

"He [Casey Charles] never made any investments on behalf of the investors; he just used their money for his own personal expenses," explained US Postal Inspector Frank Schissler.

Postal Inspectors say Charles scammed more than 22 people, including Barbara. Total loss came to almost $900,000.

"To think of someone coming into someone's home while there husband is in a wheelchair dying and knowing you're going to take money from them, it's despicable," said Schissler.

"They don't seem to care or think about what they are doing to other people. It is almost as bad as holding someone up with a gun. They got their money however they got it," said Barbara.

Casey Charles pleaded guilty to mail fraud and was sentenced in July to three and a half years in federal prison and has been ordered to pay restitution.

Postal inspectors say Charles targeted retirees.  Some advice: Research anyone who claims to be a financial advisor.  An easy place to start is the Better Business Bureau of Northeast Florida, which tracks consumer complaints.  The phone number is (904) 721-2288.