Alleged Embezzlement Victims Learn Millions May Be Gone
Posted October 21, 2003 7:38 a.m. EDT
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — Hundreds of senior citizens who said they were tricked out of millions of dollars got some more bad news Friday.
Anthony Allen, a Cumberland County businessman, is accused of scamming the senior citizens out of the money.
Hundreds of people met for two hours Friday morning, looking for a way to get their money back. Lawyers said that may never happen.
"If he had millions of bucks squirreled away somewhere, folks, I don't think he'd be here right now," said Ed Grannis, Cumberland County district attorney.
Lawyers said they are interested in forming a class-action lawsuit against Allen.
Some of those at the meeting said they are out tens of thousands of dollars, others hundreds of thousands.
"There are ladies in there who gave their life savings, and he laughed all the way to the bank," alleged victim Art Tatem said.
Tatem said he lost tens of thousands of dollars. No matter the amount of their losses, the idea of not getting it back hit hard.
"It's the most tragic thing that I've ever experienced in my life," he said. "The man has eaten meals at my house. He's been in my home. My word."
As the case develops, prosecutors fear Tatem's money -- and everyone else's -- money may be lost forever.
"I think so, unfortunately. Millions and millions of dollars, it's devastating," Grannis said.
The alleged victims said Allen promised them better interest rates than what they were getting. They said if they do not see their money again, it will be like being robbed twice.
Prosecutors said they are following the money to places that Allen owned, but have yet to see the millions lost.
Investigators already searched Allen's house, his businesses and his friend's home. Now, they are searching a townhouse he also owned.
"It's unbelievable -- just something you don't understand," alleged victim Selma Ray said.
Since prosecutors have not found any of the missing millions, some people asked why they should bother to sue. Lawyers for the people who believe they are victims of Allen said other defendants may be involved and that they may have the money.