Investment manager charged with fraud

State authorities have arrested a Catawba County man in connection with an investment scheme that allegedly bilked $634,000 from four investors.

J.V. Huffman Jr., 44, of Claremont faces four felony counts of securities fraud. His arrest Friday came after N.C. Secretary of State investigators searched his home on Wishing Well Lane, seizing documents, computer equipment and other electronic devices.

Authorities say Huffman issued various promissory notes through his company, Biltmore Financial Group Inc., claiming clients' investments would be used to buy and sell real estate mortgages or deeds of trust.

But rather than investing the money, authorities say, he took it for his own use.

Secretary of State officials are still investigating Huffman and his company, and say additional charges are possible. They also have issued a cease and desist order against him and Biltmore Financial, saying neither was registered to conduct financial securities business.

Investigators began building their case over the past year after receiving tips about Huffman and his company, which has been in business for some time.

The original tipsters told authorities that Huffman's promises sounded too good to be true, Secretary of State Elaine Marshall said in a news release Monday.

“In most cases,” the statement said, “when an investment sounds too good to be true, it usually is.”

Huffman was in jail Monday in Catawba County under a $1 million secured bond. A phone number listed for his home and business had been changed or disconnected.

The case against Huffman and Biltmore Financial is at least the second fraud investigation in the Charlotte area in recent months. Tyrone “Cauzae” McCall of Charlotte pleaded guilty earlier this year to felony charges related to an investment-fraud scheme that scammed $250,000 from a Monroe church and its leaders.

State officials have said they've seen a surge in security fraud cases in recent years.