Local News

Raleigh investment adviser faces federal fraud charges in alleged Ponzi scheme

Posted December 20, 2017 5:15 p.m. EST
Updated December 20, 2017 10:19 p.m. EST

— A federal grand jury on Tuesday indicted a Raleigh investment adviser on fraud and money laundering charges, alleging that he defrauded investors through an elaborate Ponzi scheme for eight years.

Stephen Condon Peters, 44, is charged with one count each of investment adviser fraud and fraud in the sale of unregistered securities, nine counts of wire fraud, four counts of engaging in monetary transactions in criminally derived property and one count of corruptly endeavoring to influence a federal agency.

The indictment alleges that Peters, who owns VisionQuest Wealth Management, took in more than $15.3 million from investors since 2009, promising them returns of 8 to 9 percent a year. He shuffled the money among various companies he controlled, using some funds to pay off early investors while also wiring money to himself, according to the indictment.

Agents with the FBI and the U.S. Department of the Treasury searched the downtown Raleigh offices of VisionQuest and Peters' Raleigh home on July 12.

Three months before that, according to the indictment, the Securities and Exchange Commission began investigating VisionQuest, and Peters tried to get an IT worker to scrub evidence off the company's computers. He also created a phony revolving loan between two of his companies to account for cash movements and lied to investigators, the indictment states.

A federal judge froze Peters' assets in September, and federal authorities plan to seize an array of property to help repay victims. The list includes a horse farm near Lake Wheeler, three horses, saddles and horse tack, farm equipment, a cliffside vacation home in Costa Rica known as "The House of the Beloved Princess," property in Jacksonville and Wilkes County, a Cadillac Escalade and other vehicles, a dozen firearms, five watches and assorted jewelry, artwork and any cash in five bank accounts.