WRAL Investigates

Claims pile up against dead Dunn businessman's estate

Posted October 7, 2010 4:26 p.m. EDT
Updated October 7, 2010 6:23 p.m. EDT

— Claims against the estate of a Harnett County businessman that some people claim ran a $40 million Ponzi scheme continue to pour in.

Ray Mulkey Jr. owned or was a partner in four companies that dealt with financing and real estate. Creditors contend that he used the businesses to attract investors, promising them 12 percent interest on their money.

Fayetteville attorney Lonnie Player, who represents 11 people who invested with Mulkey, calls the businessman's dealings a Ponzi scheme, maintaining that money from new investors was used to pay interest to earlier investors and to fund a lavish lifestyle for Mulkey.

Mulkey, 63, was found dead in North Myrtle Beach, S.C., on Aug. 16. Authorities ruled his death a suicide.

His estate filings show he signed his will a week before his death.

Dozens of individuals and businesses, including several banks, have since filed more than $40 million in claims against his estate.

Mulkey was a founding board member of Dunn-based New Century Bank, and the bank had to write off about $11 million in fraudulent loans linked to Mulkey.

Likewise, Four Oaks Bank filed a notice with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that it would write off $4 million in bad loans because of fraud by one of its customers. Mulkey had extensive dealings with Four Oaks Bank, according to filings with the North Carolina Secretary of State's Office.

Now, two South Carolina-based banks have filed more than $2 million in claims against his estate. Horry County State Bank is seeking $1.4 million, while Synovus Bank is seeking $700,000.

The Fayetteville Shriners Club wants back $55,000 it invested with Mulkey, according to estate filings.

The estate listed $8 million in assets. Player said it will be difficult for most investors to recover any money.

The mounting claims led the estate administrator to contact state officials, and the state Department of Insurance is auditing Mulkey's insurance businesses.

State investigators said it's unclear whether anyone else was involved in the scheme.