North Carolina man arrested in ‘Ponzi’ scheme that involved Orange County real estate development

18 January 2023

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — A 56-year-old Cary man was arrested Tuesday upon the unsealing of a 23-count indictment in connection with an investment fraud scam. 

According to the indictment, Kumar Arun Neppalli allegedly relied on his good standing within the Indian-American community in Cary to defraud at least 12 victims or sets of victims into giving him money under the false pretense that he would be investing their money in a legitimate real estate development in the Orange County, according to U.S. Attorney Michael Easley. 

Neppalli allegedly used the funds from these victims to pay back earlier investors who believed that he was returning their original investment and legitimate capital gains.  Returning capital to earlier investors by defrauding new investors is commonly known as a “Ponzi” scheme.

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“We are committed to protecting the investing public from financial schemes,” Easley said. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office is working closely with the FBI to identify, investigate, and pursue those who cheat people out of their hard-earned money.”

As further alleged in the indictment, Neppalli would typically call the victims on the phone or talk to them in person to describe a local real-estate investment opportunity, usually in Orange County, Easley said.

Neppalli allegedly leveraged his employment with the Town of Chapel Hill to convince victims that he had insider knowledge of development plans with respect to the purported real estate. 

The indictment said Neppalli would then request a specific amount of money within a short timeframe, sometimes the same day, to facilitate closing the transaction.  He would allegedly promise a return of the principal investment plus a profit within a few months and sometimes ask his victims not to discuss the transaction with other members of the community or reference a non-disclosure agreement.

“Our investigation shows Neppalli abused the trust and confidence placed in him by fellow Indian-American community members. He promised to invest their money in property. Instead, Neppalli used the funds to pay back other people he swindled as part of his scheme; now, multiple victims are left without their much-needed savings,” said Michael C. Scherck, FBI Acting Special Agent-in-Charge. “Fraud can have an immediate and direct impact on people and communities, and the FBI remains determined to bring those who commit it to justice.”

Neppalli was indicted on 17 counts of wire fraud and six counts of conducting transactions in criminally derived property.  Arraignment before U.S. District Judge Terrence W. Boyle is expected to occur later this year.

Neppalli faces up to 20 years in prison per count and potential fines.

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