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Published: Wednesday, 2/5/2014

Key player in $850M Ponzi scheme pleads guilty


CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A key player in a North Carolina online company that took money from tens of thousands of people is pleading guilty for her role in the Ponzi scheme.

Dawn Olivares pleaded guilty today in federal court in Charlotte to securities fraud conspiracy and tax evasion stemming from the $850 million scam.

Her stepson, Daniel Olivares, also pleaded guilty to securities fraud conspiracy. Each faces a possible five years in prison.

Dawn Olivares worked closely with Paul Burks of Lexington — the founder of Zeekler.com, a penny auction site, and ZeekRewards, a business designed to drive traffic to the penny auction.

The Securities and Exchange Commission closed both companies in August, 2012.

Prosecutors say Dawn Olivares played a key role in ZeekRewards, diverting more than $7 million for her personal use.

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