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Columbia Man Indicted for Investment Fraud

Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that a Columbia, Mo., man has been indicted by a federal grand jury for an investment fraud scheme.

Billings Chapman, 77, of Columbia, was charged in a six-count indictment returned under seal by a federal grand jury in Jefferson City, Mo., on Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016. That indictment was unsealed and made public today upon Chapman’s arrest and initial court appearance.

Chapman owned an interest in CheckmarcUSA, LLC, a company formed to provide bad check collection services to banks. He also owned Federal Financial Services, LLC (FFS), which he used to solicit investors.

The federal indictment alleges that Chapman engaged in a scheme from May 26, 2011, to April 30, 2014, to defraud investors by making materially false representations and using investment funds for his own personal benefit.

Chapman falsely told investors that he held a doctorate in economics and that he had taught economics at a university, the indictment says. He allegedly guaranteed monthly payments to investors and guaranteed a 20 percent rate of return that would be paid monthly or quarterly. Chapman allegedly misrepresented to investors his financial condition and the financial condition of FFS, claiming that large numbers of banks had signed up for CheckmarcUSA’s services and that FFS was accruing substantial income as a result.

According to the indictment, Chapman did not tell investors that he had been barred from engaging in the securities industry in 1970 by the National Association of Securities Dealers, or that he had been issued cease and desist orders in 1991 and in 2004 from the Missouri Commissioner of Securities for engaging in fraudulent or illegal practices in the securities business. Chapman, who was not registered to sell securities in Missouri, allegedly used investor money for his own personal gain and to make payments to prior investors.

The federal indictment charges Chapman with three counts of mail fraud and two counts of wire fraud. Chapman is also charged with one count of money laundering, related to the transfer of $100,000 that was allegedly derived by fraud.

Dickinson cautioned that the charges contained in this indictment are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.