Consumer Alert: Last to Know - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

Consumer Alert: Last to Know

Source: Ivanhoe Newswire Source: Ivanhoe Newswire

The pitch was strong. Invest your money and make a 10 percent rate of return.

While many of us may think, "it's too good to be true" some fall victim to the idea of making money. In fact, a reporter found this was a multi-million-dollar scam with hundreds of victims.

Lalah Larew and her later husband were always focused on having enough money to retire. Her husband, who was a farmer, met a woman who told him about an investment that would give a 10 percent rate of return.

"He called the company and got details and he said “you know, this sounds okay," said Lalah.

The Larew's decided to invest $30,000 with Donna Brown and Budget Finance Company and signed a contract.

"It was folded and looked like a deed. It had letterhead and everything like that. It had the interest rate on it and then we started receiving quarterly statements, said Lalah.

According to those quarterly statements, their investment was steadily growing, so they invested another $30,000.

Two years ago, Lalah's husband learned he had an aggressive form of cancer and passed away.

Lalah then began organizing their finances and decided to call on their investments.

"I got a recording that said Budget Finance Company is closed indefinitely. Wow. That was a stunner. I just thought “what is going on?," said Lalah.

She began searching the internet and found out she was one of 800 victims in a scam with $32 million.

"I don’t think I’ll get that money back, said Lalah.

Postal inspectors say Budget Finance was initially a legitimate company, but something changed.

"New investment money was coming in to fund old investors interest, principle withdrawals, that sort of stuff," said Ian Ortega, a U.S. Postal Inspector.

Inspectors say there were less red flags.

"Be very leery of any investment opportunities that guarantee high rates of return. Don’t just rely on word of mouth. You have to do your proper due diligence," said Ortega.

Lalah says she learned her lesson and she wishes they had done more homework.

"We should have done it in the beginning, the very beginning," said Lalah

Donna Brown was convicted of running this scam. She was sentenced to 10 years in prison and ordered to pay restitution to the victims.

Copyright 2017 Litton’s Consumer Alert via WBRC. All rights reserved.

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