on November 1, 2008 by in Uncategorized, Comments (0)

The rise and fall of Bounty Land Finance

Beware if:

• Spectacular profits are promised

• High pressure sales tactics are used

• No risk guarantees are made

• Your credit card number is requested for any purpose

• Verifiable references are not willingly provided

• Suggestions are made that you invest on the basis of trust

• Don’t want you to discuss the investment with an impartial third person

Always ask:

• Where are you located?

• How long have you been in the investment or brokerage industry?

• Would you send me written information about yourself, your firm and investments?

• Are the investments you’re trying to sell me registered in the state?

• How many clients do you have in the state?

• Is your company publicly traded?

• Are you registered with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority or the state?

Source: South Carolina Attorney General’s Securities Division

SENECA — In the coming days, legal notices will be appearing in general circulation newspapers advertising the sale to the highest bidder of Bounty Land Finance, LLC.

It is one more revelation in a string of breaking news surrounding the tanking of this consumer-loans company, into which investors pumped $4 million, that those same investors do not particularly want to hear.

First came the news Oct. 7 from the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office that the company’s owner, James Thomas Orr, had disappeared. Days later, the doors to Bounty Land Finance (BLF) were closed, and a court order was posted on the front declaring that the company was being placed in the hands of a receiver for the purpose of dissolving it.

In the ensuing days, the that person received court permission to sell off the company’s six vehicles and equipment, and now the court has blessed the selling of BLF in its totality.

This rapid turn of events, including the resurfacing of Orr, who said he went into hiding because “he had lost everything,” means that investors are left holding an empty bag.

As with any investment, risks are involved. The 51 investors who poured money into the company, some more than $400,000, did so because they were promised interest on their principal that would sometimes more than triple what they could get in return from a certificate of deposit or from playing the stock market.

In retrospect, one Seneca man, who has all but given up hopes of ever seeing the $60,000 he invested, said he would have been better off putting his money in the bank.

The investor, Michael Abercrombie, spoke freely about how he got involved with BLF, how he would get a check in the mail like clockwork from the interest on his investment and how he got to know the man who was the face of the company.

Abercrombie said he learned about BLF and its attractive return on investment through word of mouth. He paid a visit to see Orr at his business in the little plaza in Seneca. He liked what he heard and trusted in BLF’s business model.

After all, where else could he get 12 percent on his investment in a good year or 8 percent in a not-so-good year? This was possible because BLF was charging 30, 40, or 50 and up to 80 percent interest on consumer loans, court records show.

So for 20 years, Abercrombie said he would get a check in the mail that averaged about $400 each month. That’s $96,000 over the course of those 20 years.

No wonder then, that Abercrombie visited Orr again earlier this year and asked, how’s business? He liked what he heard and said he would renew his certificate for another year.

Abercrombie said investors would receive a letter each year asking if they wanted to renew. The understanding was that if you didn’t renew, you would get your principal back.

It was not until he saw on TV news that Orr had disappeared that Abercrombie began to worry. A few days letter, he went to the business and found the doors locked and BLF out of business. Now, from the $96,000 he received in interest payments, he had to subtract $60,000 he would probably never see again. His net gain is only $36,000.

Investors from Oconee County, other parts of the state, North Carolina and as far away as Florida and Virginia find themselves in the same predicament.

The Securities Division of the state Attorney General’s Office is reviewing stacks of complaints filed by these investors. The South Carolina Law Enforcement

Division is waiting in the wings to also look at the BLF case to see if there was any impropriety in the way these investors’ money was handled.

Abercrombie said he doesn’t know what to make of BLF’s demise. He now recognizes that he took a big risk with his money because the investment was not insured.

‘’I was surprised he let it get so bad in debt,’’ Abercrombie said. ‘’I didn’t think he would run it to the ground.’’