LEXINGTON, N.C. -- Autographed guitars and even keychains. A warehouse full of stuff all of it up for auction this week. This is how 800,000 victims might recover millions from the Zeek Rewards Ponzi Scheme.
As much as $600 million gone. That's how much was lost in the scheme. Victims can be found in 100 countries worldwide. That's how far-reaching this alleged scheme went.
Investigators believe it was all operated inside a building in Lexington. It was owned by Zeek Rewards. Monday, the building sold for $240,000. A warehouse, also owned by Zeek, was auctioned off for $415,000. Investigators aren't sure what the building was used for.
The items on the auction block that got the most attention on Monday? Country music memorabilia, and a lot of it. About 700 lots of signed pictures, stage costumes and even an autographed piano all auctioned off to the highest bidder.
A costume and documents from singer Barbara Mandrell fetched the highest bid, at $3,100. The second highest sale was a costume worn by Grand Ole Opry singer, Porter Wagoner, at $1,400.
Even with all this stuff, auctioneers say it's not as much as they usually see in a case like this. "In Ponzi scheme cases that we've been involved in, the only thing that's left is what the mastermind had spent his money on," said auctioneer Will Lilly. "In this case, it appears that most of the money was caught before it was able to be spent."
Auctioneers are looking to collect even more money on Tuesday. They'll be auctioning off home and office furniture, office supplies and really any Zeek-owned property that might make some money, even as small as a can of WD-40 and some duct tape.
The person in charge of finding and distributing the money tells us many of the victims will get at least some of their money back by next April. By the end of this month, they'll send out letters informing victims how much, if any, of their money they'll get back. Visit the auctioneer's website to check out and bid on items through Tuesday. You can also bid in person starting at 9am Tuesday at 4095 Old Salisbury Road in Lexington.
The owner of Zeek Rewards, Paul Burks, has not been criminally charged, but he has reached agreement with the Securities and Exchange Commission to pay $4 million. Criminal charges can only be filed by the U-S Attorney's Office. They told us last week they don't comment on whether or not they're investigating.
Last we heard, $300 million have been recovered. As of October, 175,000 claims have been filed for just under $600 million.
WFMY News 2