LOUISVILLE (WATE) – A Louisville widow is due to lose her home to foreclosure in less than two weeks. She’s a victim of an alleged investment fraud scheme that has possibly cost hundreds of people millions of dollars.
6 On Your Side first reported part of Joy Joines’ story in April.
When it’s time to retire, many people turn to who they believe are reliable investors. Hundreds people thought they had found a in Knoxville called Benchmark Capital. Federal investigators say several million dollars were invested with the company.
But none of those people anticipated what would happen.
Joy and her late husband, Kenneth, built a small home in Louisville on waterfront property in a picturesque inlet 25 years ago.
Before Kenneth died of cancer in 2005, he wanted financial security for his wife. So he took out a reverse mortgage, believing it would give her income for life, along with $900 a month she receives from another retirement fund.
For seven years, Joy received a $500 monthly payment based on the equity from her home.
But this March, PNC Mortgage wrote saying Joy was behind in her mortgage payments. “I have never done anything to hurt anyone, never in my life,” she said.
She is one of many investors who lost their retirement savings, as documented in court records. It was part of an alleged investment fraud involving Knoxville-based Benchmark Capital and Louisville accounting firm J. Allen and associates.
A federal indictment named Joyce Allen and an associate as part of the scheme.
“The bank bought the contract out, but she had taken a balloon payment and stuck it in her pocket,” Joy said.
According to the court documents, there’s no evidence that any funds sent to Benchmark were ever invested in a legitimate annuity.
“She should have to pay every person she defrauded every penny she owes them,” Joy said. “Every penny.”
In July, Joyce Allen pleaded not guilty to six counts of counterfeit securities and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Foreclosure is scheduled on Thursday, August 16 for the home Joy has been fighting to keep.
She says it’s inevitable she’s going to lose it. “I’ve never cried so much, and I don’t want to cry anymore. I just don’t,” Joy said.
A letter from Joy’s attorney pleads to PNC Mortgage to delay foreclosure until the federal case goes to court in September.
The bank claims Joy owes about $93,000 on the house.
Starting in April, she kept records of more than 80 phone calls from PNC. But they weren’t in response to her attorney’s request.
What the bank wanted was “to know when I am going to make a payment on my loan, to tell me that my last check bounced. As we know, it was not my check at all. It was Jay Allen’s check that bounced,” Joy said.
Benchmark Capital is named as part of the elaborate Ponzi scheme. It was once located in an office in North Knoxville, but the owner, C.D. Candler, drove to Greenwood Cemetery on March 1 and killed himself, according to police reports.
With only days to go to save her home, Joy says her only hope is divine intervention. “That’s the only thing that is going to save me is a miracle. I can’t see any other way.”
Regarding the alleged fraud, a trial date for Joyce Allen and her associate is set for September 25 in federal court. Her associate also pleaded not guilty in July.