GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — Federal investigators have now frozen all the assets of a missing financial planner.
Securities and Exchange Commission investigators said in a new federal lawsuit that well-known metro financial planner Chris Burns raised $10 million in a Ponzi scheme after the SEC found there were no investments, just lies and money transfers.
At least 70 investors over three years were promised monthly checks with anywhere from 5% to 20% interest.
An investigator wrote that burns used the note proceeds to fund his lifestyle, pay business expenses and rent time for his weekly radio show on WSB Radio, of which he was not an employee.
Investigators also named Burns’ wife as a relief defendant trying to cut off any proceeds she might have from what authorities call a scam.
One metro area man, who asked not to be identified, told Channel 2′s Tony Thomas that he invested a good chunk of his retirement funds into Chris Burns company Investus Financial and his so-called peer-to-peer lending.
“it’s been a strange roller coaster. I think it’s been more the betrayal,” the man said. “He would tell us, ‘Oh yeah, your investments are doing well.’ I guess the longer it goes the less hope I have.”
Burns disappeared in late September, one day before he was to turn over documents to SEC investigators.
The day before, records show he reached a divorce agreement with his wife and gave her their million-dollar house, a boat and belongings.
A judge just froze all the couple’s assets as the FBI looks for Burns.
Angie O’Connor is one of several clients the SEC named in its court filing. Thomas first spoke with her last month.
“It hurts a whole bunch,” O’Connor said. “I think I’ve accepted that the money is gone.”
The court filings also detail Burns’ final days before he vanished, raising $320,000 from investors and transferring all but $75 into his own accounts, then another $165,000 on the day he disappeared.
“I’m hoping maybe his connection with his family, especially his kids, maybe he’ll slip up,” the man said.
Representatives for Mrs. Burns issued a statement Wednesday, saying:
“This is a very difficult time for Meredith Burns family and her children.
“It bears repeating that Meredith Burns played no part in the operations of the companies and the government has therefore not made any such allegations, which is why Meredith has been listed as a relief defendant and not an actual defendant in the SEC complaint. She continues to cooperate fully and consistently with all law enforcement authorities.
“We acknowledge the court’s process for resolving issues such as this and look forward to a day when there is resolution on the question of assets. At this point, the government, Ms. Burns, and everyone involved are attempting to determine the origins and nature of all funds involved. The SEC has filed its initial complaint and we are working diligently to come to a fair and equitable agreement of terms.
“Meredith’s main priority remains to be caring for her young children.
“The entire family continues to hope and pray for Mr. Burns’s safe return.”
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