GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - Hundreds of investors may have lost millions of dollars in aswindle run by a Byron Center man, according to court papers filedby the US Attorney in Grand Rapids.
The court document accuses David Wilson McQueen and "numerous otherindividuals" of running a "scheme by which they have defrauded, andcontinue to defraud, hundreds of unwitting investors, many of whomreside in West Michigan."
"McQueen and his confederates have deceived investors byestablishing shell businesses and presenting them as vehicles forinvestment in...real estate, natural resources and varioustechnologies," the court petition continues. "In reality," it says,"these businesses merely have served as conduits by which McQueenand others have taken investor money for their personal use andbenefit or have paid it out in small increments as 'interest' onwhat the victims believed were legitimate investments."
The accusations are part of a court case filed in late Augustin which the government is trying to seize McQueen's Florida condofor the IRS.
According to the document "McQueen has spent millions ofdollars of unlawfully acquired investor money for his personalbenefit," including the Fort Lauderdale property.
Target 8 Investigators went to McQueen's home onRidge Top Drive in Byron Center three times this week, but onlyonce did someone answer the door and it wasn't McQueen. The mansaid he manages rental properties for McQueen.
Neighbors, however, say they were surprised when a team offederal agents raided the house recently, leaving with computersand other items.
So far, nobody has been charged with a crime, but the FBI and IRS agents are continuing aninvestigation.
McQueen has replied to some of his investors who inquire withan e-mail saying, "we vehemently deny" (the allegations) and thatthe Federal investigation has "rendered it impossible for us tomove forward with our business at this time."
Those investors include Norm and Molly Westrate ofHastings.
They got into one of McQueen's investment schemes, Diversified GlobalFunding, last October. "We're facing insolvency,basically," said Norm.
They are unable to get at their money which was their income andretirement fund. Norm retired early from Steelcase and is too youngto draw Social Security. They were depending on that investment andthe monthly income from it.
He said they put their money in Diversified last October when"the sky was falling" in the stock market. He said people he knowshad investments with McQueen and spoke highly of him. And theWestrates wanted to protect their retirement money.
"I've talked to people that still don't think he's a badguy," he says. "I'm not ready to vilify Dave McQueen."
But with the federal investigation and something hediscovered himself, he is growing suspicious.
Westrate had been getting regular statements from Diversifiedsince he put his money into the fund last autumn, showing 1% permonth growth. But recently he filed paper work to draw more incomefrom the investment and received a document from the company thatindicated his money had just transferred into Diversified inAugust.
"It's like, well, OK, what were they doing with our money in theinterim?" he asks.
Target 8 Investigators checked New Zealand public records andfound that Diversified Global Finance was incorporated in thatcountry, listing McQueen as its Director. The paper work was filedby a company that specializes in setting up offshore tax sheltersin New Zealand.
McQueen's operations last year occupied a part of the groundfloor in the Campau Square Plaza building downtown. That office isnow vacant. Under the name International Opportunity Consultants,McQueen was supposed to move to the second floor of a neighboringoffice building but did not.
His companies often use an address that turns out to be aPakMail box in Grandville.
Target 8 Investigators first heard of David McQueen in 2007after a local businessman called. He was concerned about what he'dheard at a meeting of potential investors in another McQueencompany called Accelerated Income Group. The caller said he wassuspicious of what he said was a proposed 22% return on investmentand the secrecy surrounding the nature of the investmentsthemselves.
Target 8 Investigators tried to track McQueen's businessactivities, at one time attending an investment sales session atthe downtown office. At that time a salesman told us "these guysare doing things with money a lot of people don't know about. It'sall legal, what they do with it."
Over that two-year period we could not find anyonecomplaining about McQueen's investment opporunities, and thus didno story until now.
The first public hint of trouble came in October 2008 whenMcQueen and his Accelerated Income Group filed a lawsuit against aFlorida company called MRT Holdings.
Sources had told us the man running MRT had attended someMcQueen sales meetings in Grand Rapids as a presenter. Now McQueenhas sued MRT claiming it won't repay nearly $19 million dollars hegave the company.
Others have filed a class action suit alleging MRT is aPonzi scheme in which old investors are paid off withmoney collected from new investors.
Then in February 2009, an online forum for investmentprofessionals came to life with a string of complaints andsuspicions about McQueen and Diversified. A source said one ofthose contributors went to the FBI.
In May of this year McQueen, as International OpportunityConsultants, sued an Oklahoma company called Fastech claiming fraudin an ethanol fuel deal and a loss of nearly $3 million.
Neither McQueen nor the US Attorney's office responded to ourattempts to contact them for comment.
Broadmoor Avenue has reopened after it was shut down due to a four-vehicle crash in Caledonia.
The extravaganza was Dec. 11, 2013 in downtown Grand Rapids.
Gary Rolls Jr. has announced he'll resign from the Kent County Board of Commissioners, effective Jan. 1, 2014.