Family says their lotto jackpot is gone after bad bank investments

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HENRY COUNTY, Ga. - A Henry County family that won the lottery is now broke and they said bad investments by their bank caused them to lose everything.

Mark Chambers was one of Georgia's first lottery winners, splitting a $2 million ticket. He walked away with close to $600,000. In 2002, he invested with First Union Bank. He said they promised big returns on his money.

"When I won the lottery, I expected to have financial freedom, retirement, college tuition for my children and have a since of security," Chambers said.

Chambers said he and his wife Melissa borrowed money to open two businesses. But he said when Wachovia Bank bought First Union, everything changed. Their investments lost thousands of dollars and before they knew it, they were broke.

"Now, I'm 47 years old, and by this time, I was supposed to be able to take a break and not work so hard, but I'm still working six days a week and 60 to 80 hours a week," Chambers said.

Chambers said the bank wanted their loans paid in full.

"My kids have to take student loans out, I have to pay those, when I had this money," Chambers said.

The Chambers sued, saying the bank mismanaged their money. They won the right to a jury trial, but that was in 2008. Five years later, they're still waiting for their day in court.

"It is a horrible experience to fight a bank. I wouldn't want it on anybody," Chambers said.

Chambers' attorney said Wells Fargo, which now owns Wachovia, has been able to delay the court case.

Channel 2 Action News contacted the bank, but haven't heard back.

Financial planner Brian Byars said investors should never put all their money with one company.

"The key mistake that was made they put their assets where their liabilities were at. You have to separate the two," Byars said.