Heritage Capital owners in court

October 2, 2008 3:17:58 PM PDT
A Wilmington couple stands accused of defrauding consumers in an elaborate advanced fee loan scheme. They had their first court appearance on Thursday.

Action News first warned you about Ed and Carol Johnson back in November 2007. Consumers were complaining then that they paid the Johnson's thousands and thousands of dollars for loans that never materialized. Now the couple faces a 14-count federal indictment.

Diane Spencer paid Heritage Capital Credit Corporation 45-thousand-dollars for a commercial loan. John Hardy paid 30-thousand-dollars and Bob Wyatt paid 9-thousand-5-hundred-dollars.

"What they didn't disclose to anyone is that they didn't have the money to fund the loans," said Diane Spencer from Durham, North Carolina.

"They destroyed a lot of people."

"Our financial lives are pretty much ruined for the foreseeable future."

Now the U.S. Attorney's office has indicted the company's President and CEO Caroline Johnson and her husband, Ed Johnson. The indictment names six victims, including a church, and alleges the Johnsons knew they couldn't fund the loans but took application fees anyway.

"Mr. Johnson is charged with collecting over 800-thousand-dollars in fees. Mrs. Johnson about 500-thousand-dollars," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Lesley Wolf.

Carol Johnson tried to hide from our camera but recently paid to be on-camera for an infomercial that aired last week where she said Heritage Capital Credit Corporation is trying to get more loan applications.

"We've got enough equity in our loans to overcome any deficiencies," said Carol Johnson during the infomercial.

What she failed to mention on the infomercial is that she and her husband face multiple counts of mail fraud, wire fraud, and engaging in an illegal monetary transaction.

By the way, Ed Johnson was already convicted of unrelated financial crimes in 1990 and again in 2004.


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