Crime & Courts

10,000 worldwide fell prey to man’s internet Ponzi scheme

A Michigan man was sentenced on Tuesday to nearly three years in federal prison for operating a multi-million dollar internet Ponzi scheme that claimed at least 10,000 victims worldwide, including in the Charlotte area, prosecutors said.

Troy Barnes, 53, also was ordered in federal court in Charlotte to forfeit $4.7 million and pay victims $302,297, U.S. Attorney Jill Rose said.

Barnes’ conspirator, Kristine Louise Johnson of Aurora, Colo., was previously sentenced to nearly two years in prison for her role in the scheme.

The scammers promised their victims 700 percent returns on their investments. Barnes told them his company “is the answer to all of our prayers,” according to court documents.

Barnes owned “Work with Troy Barnes, Inc.,” which did business over the internet under the name “The Active Community,” court records show.

He also told his victims they could make as much money as they wanted, claiming the investment was “never-ending.” The business, however, operated solely as a pyramid scheme in which initial investors were paid with later victims’ money, according to the indictment against Barnes.

Joe Marusak: 704-358-5067, @jmarusak