A CBS46 undercover investigation exposed an Atlanta man accused of taking money from clients as far away as Chicago and Miami.
Redell Vincent Napper II, 39, claimed to be a well-connected investment consultant who helps aspiring small business owners get funding they need to launch their companies. But his former clients tell CBS46 investigative reporter Jeff Chirico that he misrepresented his credentials and left them broke.
On social media, Napper went by the alias Vince Santana and portrays himself as a flashy millionaire who runs Napper Investments and numerous other financial and entertainment companies.
"We manage about $250 million that we're looking to put into small businesses," Napper said to a CBS46 undercover producer. "We manage for a family over in Dubai, so its oil money. Lots of it."
When asked about his business, Napper told Chirico he is doing nothing wrong and said he has had success helping other companies. None of the companies he mentioned could confirm Napper helped them successfully find funding for a fee.
But Karl and Fran Beaudry of Joliet, IL, said their dealings with Napper have changed their lives. The once middle class couple now doesn't have money to pay bills.
"It's an adjustment for pride more than anything," said Karl Beaudry as he and his wife used food stamps to purchase groceries at a nonprofit charity store.
The Beaudrys and their friends claim they gave Napper a total of $27,350 to find investors to support their new business venture.
Beaudry had planned to start an online Disney travel concierge service and needed funds to develop the software. Karl Beaudry said Napper strung him along for two years, claiming in numerous e-mails that the money was coming soon.
"He knew that we were just a plain old Christian couple that wanted to get a dream company going," said Karl Beaudry. "It's almost as if he had this all planned out from the start."
Thirteen hundred miles south, David Bernier said he lost $100,000 doing business with Napper.
"This was almost all of my life savings," said Bernier, who hired Napper to get financing for the purchase of an assisted living facility in North Miami.
Bernier said Napper misrepresented his connections and credentials and when the funding didn't come, Bernier lost his $100,000 deposit on the property. Bernier said when he threatened to report him to the FBI, Napper returned the $14,500 fee Bernier paid.
While walking away from an unscheduled interview, Napper told Chirico he had nothing to do with Bernier's losses and initially denied receiving money from Karl Beaudry.
But when pressed, Napper claimed he found one investor but would not name the company.
Karl Beaudry said that company is The Lamore Group out of Toronto. In August 2013, Beaudry received a commitment from the alleged private equity firm for a $2 million loan that never materialized.
Karl Beaudry learned the firm's emails appeared to be coming from the same IP address as Napper's and The Lamore Group's website domain had been purchased weeks earlier.
"We realized Vince had set this website up two weeks before so he could be prepared to tell us, 'oh, there's a company that's going to support you,'" Karl Beaudry said.
CBS46 also found Napper has a questionable past, including serving time in a federal prison on drug charges, a history of being sued more than a dozen times, a bankruptcy filing and failure to pay rent - including on the penthouse he boasted about on social media.
"I think of him as a very sad person," Fran Beaudry said.
In 2012, Karl Beaudry left his job at a web hosting company anticipating the funding for his new business. When the money never came, Karl was unable to find full time work and the Beaudry's blew through their limited savings and resorted to selling off their possessions to pay bills.
"That's when the tears come up above the tear line honestly," said Fran Beaudry, referring to selling their furniture.
To make matters worse, the couple doesn't have money to treat Fran's worsening psoriasis that forces her to use a cane.
"We get angry with [Napper]," Karl Beaudry said. "When we're waiting for Medicaid to be approved so she can walk and when we're looking at our bank account being zero, we get angry."
Investment experts warn entrepreneurs and aspiring small business owners not to pay someone up front to help find funding.
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