FBI: Charlotte businessman found dead was running Ponzi scheme

FBI: Charlotte-based ponzi scheme funneled millions in investor's money into gambling

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Rick Siskey, 58, killed himself in December -- only a week after a judge issued an order that his south Charlotte home could be seized by the government. It was allegedly bought with money from fraudulent investments.

Channel 9 took a look at new documents which reveal where investigators believe most of those millions of dollars from investors went.

When FBI agents interviewed Siskey in mid-December he couldn't account for millions of dollars that could be used to pay back investors in what police said was a Ponzi scheme.

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An affidavit released Friday said that Siskey ended the interview. He took his own life just weeks later.

The FBI claims that Siskey ran the Ponzi scheme from Jan. 2011 to Dec. 2016. They found that $31 million was invested in his company, TSI Holdings.

Approximately $23.5 million of that came from about 100 investors -- some elderly, and not sophisticated, investigators said.

The affidavit said TSI investors were told that Siskey would invest their money and the investments were "safe." It also promised a guarantee of a steady return.

Instead, the FBI said Siskey used money from new investors to pay others, making it appear there were profits. Other funds were spent on his lavish lifestyle, including a 15,000-square-foot home on Sharon Road worth $2.8 million.

Charlotte attorney Tony Scheer sat down with Channel 9 and went through the affidavit.

"Ponzi schemes are games of musical chairs,” he said. “As long as the music is playing and new investors are bringing in money, everybody's happy. It's when the music stops and there aren't enough chairs that people fall down and hurt their bottoms."

The FBI document states that Siskey spent more than $15 million on casino gambling after transferring investors’ money into his personal accounts -- $1 million was sent to Seminole Hard Rock Resort and Casino.

The FBI alleges that Siskey placed bets as high as $70,000 a hand.

Siskey was known locally for the YMCA in Matthews that he donated money for. His massive home on Sharon Road will likely move into forfeiture.

Scheer told Channel 9 that even though some of the victims were elderly and not experienced investors, anyone can be taken in by the promise of a guarantee.

Since Siskey has died, experts said that victims may sue his estate to try and recoup their losses, but the legal fees could make that decision a tough call.

Scheer said say few victims get their money back in these types of cases.