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$1.25 Million Jury Verdict For Seniors Who Were Scammed In Ponzi Scheme

April 15, 2018

After a week long trial, a Wilson County jury returned a verdict for $1.25 million to two elderly investors who were defrauded by a Johnston County man names James L. “Rip” Rainey as a part of a widespread investment scam. Our clients were among hundreds of investors who had purchased unregistered securities marketed at the time as “business opportunities” in the sale and leaseback of mobile billboards.

As the investments were marketed, investors would purchase mobile billboards in units of $20,000 from Mobile Billboards of America, Inc. (MBA), who would then pay a monthly lease from advertising revenues. At the end of a seven-year-period, MBA would repurchase each billboard unit for the original price paid, so that the investment appeared as a method of preserving principal and making seven years of competitive interest. In reality, the sale and leaseback program was a Ponzi scheme, where the lease payments came from investors’ own money.

The program was represented to investors as a “business opportunity” so that MBA and its sales agents could circumvent state and federal securities law. After regulators pursued MBA, they discovered that millions of dollars of retirees’ savings had already disappeared. Because the defendant has hidden assets, the victims of this scam have not yet been able to collect on the jury’s verdict.

(Cases or matters referenced do not represent the law firm’s entire record. Each case is unique and must be evaluated on its owns merits. The outcome of a particular case cannot be predicated upon a lawyer’s or a law firm’s past results. Unless otherwise specified, each of the following matters was contested on liability and/or damages, the opposing parties were represented, the matters involved complex legal and/or factual issues, and the law firm was successful in collecting the amounts stated. Case summaries are from 2000 through the present.)

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“We would like to express our gratitude to you (Hunt Willis) for accepting our case. First of all, when I called this law firm, a very sweet and kind lady answered the telephone and gave me assurance by asking and going over the accident with me, while my husband was in the hospital. I felt assured I was doing the right thing for us. She was so helpful in so many ways. What a professional lady. Secondly, we are much pleased that you have settled this case with the insurance company to receive the proper amount to assist us in so many ways. My husband and I are very happy with you and the firm in handling our case. You made us have confidence in your professional and integrity along with your assistant Ms. Routh, when you both came to see us in our home, in which we saw your compassion and thoughtfulness at that time. We will never forget what you have done for us, and we thank the lord for directing me to contact this firm. I’m glad I did.” 

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