• Key player in $850M Ponzi scheme pleads guilty


    ong> - (AP) The high-profile face of a North Carolina online company that took money from tens of thousands of people is pleading guilty for her role in the Ponzi scheme.

    Forty-five-year-old Dawn Olivares pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court in Charlotte to securities fraud conspiracy and tax evasion stemming from the $850 million scam.

    Her 31-year-old stepson, Daniel Olivares, also pleaded guilty to securities fraud conspiracy.

    Each faces five years in prison.

    Dawn Olivares worked closely with Paul Burks of Lexington - the founder of Zeekler.com, a penny auction site, and ZeekRewards, a business designed to drive traffic to the penny auction.

    The Securities and Exchange Commission closed both companies in August, 2012.

    Prosecutors say Dawn Olivares was a key player in ZeekRewards, diverting more than $7 million for her personal use.

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