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Feds charge ZeekRewards founder with fraud, conspiracy in $850 million investment scam

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CHARLOTTE, North Carolina — A North Carolina man that prosecutors say masterminded an $850 million Internet-based Ponzi scheme faces charges of wire and mail fraud, conspiracy and tax fraud.

A federal grand jury in Charlotte on Friday indicted Paul Burks, the 67-year-old president of ZeekRewards and the online penny auction site Zeekler.com. The company was shut down by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in 2012, but not before prosecutors say Burks and his conspirators used the promise of massive profits to lure more than 1 million investors, including nearly 50,000 in North Carolina.

Authorities say Burks diverted more than $10 million to himself. The former nursing-home magician and country music disc jockey told The Associated Press earlier this year he never asked people to invest more money than they could afford.

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