Local News

State Investigating Possible Fraud Case Involving Rocky Mount Businessman

Posted January 10, 2005 5:10 a.m. EST

— People who invested millions of dollars through a Rocky Mount businessman fear their money is gone forever.

The North Carolina Secretary of State's Office is investigating the matter as a possible case of fraud. Hundreds of clients trusted a Rocky Mount man named Joe Jones to invest their savings, but they've come to learn in the past few months that Jones' license to sell securities expired in 2002.

Jones is no longer allowed to do business and he was arrested on drug charges at his office. His clients, such as Lillie Greene, are stuck wondering where their money is.

The Rocky Mount investment firm that Greene trusted with $200,000 was issued a cease and desist order back in September. But Greene hasn't seen any dividends since.

"I'm afraid my money is lost," Greene said. "I believe that they took our money, misused our funds."

Greene said Joe Jones and Associates recommended clients invest in a Charlotte concert promoter called BAB Productions. The Secretary of State's Office is investigating the arrangement as possible fraud.

"I would like ... whoever is involved to explain what happened to the money -- nobody's done that," said James Berkely, a Joe Jones client.

The office in Rocky Mount is open, but an assistant told a WRAL reporter that Joe Jones himself was out of town and that he was unable to reach him.

One sign of trouble for Joe Jones and Associates could be that the Secretary of State's Office says BAB Productions was never a licensed opportunity under the North Carolina Securities Act.

"My immediate reaction was this was some sort of pyramid scheme," said Marshall Gallop, who represents one client who settled with Jones out of court.

Like Lillie Green, Gallop fears much of the money may be gone for good.

"I'm very pessimistic, very pessimistic that anyone will ever get their money back," Gallop said.

WRAL was unable to reach attorneys for Joe Jones and BAB Productions. Consumers can check out the legitimacy of any investment with the Secretary of State's Office before they ever spend a dollar.