F.B.I. Accuses Overton Man in Pyramid Scheme

Overton resident Allen Petty Jr. is scheduled to be in Federal Court in Marshall Thursday morning. The FBI has put a temporary restraining order on his assets here in East Texas. Petty has not yet been indicted for any crime. But investigators say he's committed wire fraud, mail fraud, money laundering and racketeering.

On Al Petty's TeleCom 2000 web site, he makes claims that sound too good to be true. "For the first time in the history of telecommunications, long distance calling for 2 cents a minute, or even for free." The FBI says they are too good to be true.

In an affidavit, agents say Petty brought in more than $10 million in just four months. Petty ran his telecom 2000 business out of a trailer and small log cabin near Overton. There, he conducted nationwide telephone conference calls. He allegedly convinced hundreds of people to send in thousand of dollars for guaranteed returns if they would recruit more investors.

Court documents say $170 thousand a day was being deposited in the mailbox at the trailer. Investigators believe that money was then laundered through some fake charities in East Texas. Whatever has happened to the money, Petty's been able to begin construction on a new four bedroom brick house with a 2 car garage on the same property.

In December, Southside Bank alerted the FBI to a possible scam. They said Petty deposited $370 thousand in a newly created account for "Christian Disciples." The same day Christian Disciples gave $360 thousand to Petty's new charity, "Face to Face Ministries." A few days later, Face to Face gave TeleCom 2000 a $140 thousand loan. The FBI says that's money laundering.

Kay Robinson with the Better Business Bureau has dealt with Petty before. In the last week, she's received hundreds of phone calls from across the country from people saying Petty cheated them out of his guaranteed returns. "These are schemes. These are pyramid schemes where the emphasis is on recruiting people and down lines that have got money attached to them."

The money attached to Petty has been frozen by the Federal Government. Tomorrow, Petty will try to get a federal judge to lift the temporary restraining order.

Channel 7 News tried to reach Al Petty and his Tyler attorney. Our phone calls were not returned.