Former broker files bankruptcy, leaves investors in limbo - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Former Memphis broker files bankruptcy, leaves friends/investors in limbo

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MEMPHIS, TN -

(WMC-TV) - Their friendships go back nearly four decades.

They served and socialized alongside each other as Shriners of the Memphis Al Chymia Shrine Temple, 5770 Shelby Oaks Dr. In fact, Charles Moore is a former potentate of the temple.

Count 'real estate broker' as one of Moore's former titles, too.

The Tennessee Real Estate Commission revoked his broker's license, and he's announced his realty company will file for bankruptcy in the wake of both a state and federal investigation into real estate-backed securities that have cost several investors, including Moore's fellow Shriners, thousands of dollars.

"I just felt he was a very, very close friend," said fellow Shriner George Jackson of Bartlett. According to financial documents, Jackson invested more than $25,000 with Moore's Home Realty Company of Memphis, 3412 Park Ave.

"I've known Charlie for 35 years," said Fred Sexton of Forrest City, AR. Documents indicate he's out more than $75,000 with Moore's company.

Moore's company manages rental properties. It also buys and refurbishes distressed properties for re-sale or rent. 

According to documents supplied by investors, Moore convinced an untold number of them, including fellow Shriners, to invest in promissory note contracts on the properties. The notes, couched as real estate-backed securities, guaranteed as much as an eight percent return on the investments as Moore filed and secured the properties with the proper regulatory agencies.

In on-camera interviews with The Action News 5 Investigators, both Jackson and Sexton said for years, they enjoyed steady returns on their investments with Moore.

But by 2012, Moore had dropped his eight percent guarantee to as low as two percent.

"He dropped his interest rate down to practically nothing," said Sexton.

Eventually, Jackson said, the checks stopped coming.

"He quit the contract and wouldn't honor the pay on principal," Jackson said.

Jackson and two other investors reported their concerns to the Tennessee Real Estate Commission. "We have a history with Mr. Moore that goes back to 2009," said commission spokesperson Kate Abernathy. 

Abernathy said in 2009, the commission started looking into the promissory notes Moore negotiated with his investors, as well as the properties he had supposedly secured to guarantee those investments.

"At that point in time, none of the properties had been secured," she said.

Abernathy and commission documents confirmed the agency cited Moore for failing to carry professional liability insurance on his company, for "...a continued and flagrant course of misrepresentation or making of false promises" and for "failing...to account for or to remit any moneys" under the contracts.

The violations ultimately resulted in the revocation of Moore's Tennessee real estate license in June.

"We had an individual who was acting not in the best light of a real estate broker," Abernathy said.

Moore now faces two lawsuits in Shelby County. One alleges he refused to repay a $30,000 loan. The other claims he breached a contract and defaulted on real estate investments. According to the case jacket, that suit includes a summary judgment against Moore for more than $58,000.

Jackson and Sexton said they feel betrayed by their fellow Shriner.

"The organization we are associated with is built on trust and respect for our fellow man," said Jackson. "And for Mr. Moore to use his supposed influence in being in that organization, I think he has taken advantage of us."

Neither Moore nor his attorney would answer The Action News 5 Investigators' repeated requests for comment. But in documents filed with the state, his attorney wrote that Moore "denies that he took money on contract" and that such monies were secured by any properties.

In a 2012 letter to investors, Moore wrote that the real estate market "has been in turmoil," and "due to the conditions...we are unable to honor principal payments on existing accounts."

The FBI's Memphis office confirmed it launched an investigation of Moore and his company in June on allegations of "security and commodities fraud." But it closed its investigation three months later, according to documents.

A source familiar with the investigation said there was not enough evidence to charge Moore with a crime, and the statute of limitations had expired on several of the investments investigated.

The day before Halloween, Moore sent a letter to his investors. It states, "Please be advised that Home Realty Company of Memphis, Inc., will be reorganizing under Chapter 11 of the Federal Bankruptcy Code."

"I'm feeling he's running on our money," Sexton said.

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