A company that used phone calls and literature to solicit investments might have swindled two Hilton Head Island residents out of more than $600,000, the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office said Wednesday.
A 76-year-old woman and a 68-year-old man reported separate incidents, each involving personal investments made with "Heritage Deposit Brokers" that claimed to be based in Chicago.
Believing they were investing in high-yield certificates of deposit, both mailed a series of checks. The woman invested about $500,000 over four years, and the man sent more than $100,000, according to a news release.
The woman recently attempted to cash out her investments, but her requests for withdrawal were refused. She later found that the phone number had been disconnected.
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The man said that despite the company's claims to have sent investment confirmations, he never received them. After repeated failed attempts to contact a representative, he learned there was no record of his investment.
Investigators say they have found no SEC or FDIC certification or endorsement for Heritage Deposit Brokers, nor any legal documentation of its legitimacy.
The Sheriff's Office says the swindle is a form of the "Nigerian scam," which usually asks victims to send money with the promise of a larger future pay-out.
The Sheriff's Office can do little to pursue charges because the culprits usually operate internationally, the release said, and recovery of lost money is unlikely.
Anyone who invested with Heritage Deposit Brokers should call Investigator Lance Cpl. W. Conant at 843-255-3424. It might be necessary to document the incidents to help federal agencies investigate the crimes, the release said.