Two more scam victims come forward
By Shavonne Potts
Two more people have come forward alleging they were victims of a fraudulent Internet investment scam carried out by a Kannapolis couple who authorities say duped investors out of thousands of dollars.
A judge recently ordered Sammy and Sheila Biggerstaff to pay more than $56,000 in restitution and court costs stemming from the 2005 scheme.
The Biggerstaffs have not been charged since these two people came forward, but authorities are investigating their claims.
The Biggerstaffs told investors their investment in the PIPS program could earn interest at a rate of 2.5 percent per day to be compounded daily. The PIPS scheme went under several names including People in Profit Systems, Private Investment Profit System or Pureinvestor and PIPS Financial Services.
Investigators identified 11 victims who invested varying amounts, from a couple of hundred dollars to thousands. The case languished in the court system until mid-2010 when Assistant District Attorney Tom King met with the 11 identified victims, all of whom got their money back. Other victims have since come forward.
Debbie Painther told Rowan County Sheriff’s Office investigators she met Sammy Biggerstaff at the Hefner VA Medical Center, where she works.
“She did not receive a return on her investment,” said Capt. John Sifford.
Painther said Sammy Biggerstaff approached her in the summer of 2005 about the investment and promised she would make money.
Her son was in college and money was tight, but Painther said she figured she could invest and earn more, “money that would have gone to his college fund.”
Painther said the Biggerstaffs told her the owner of PIPS had several other ventures, including a film production company in Australia, a publisher of Bible-related books for children, an investment firm, a global real estate company and a nonprofit charity organization.
The couple indicated to Painther they were partners in the PIPS program.
She invested $500. A couple of months later, she read a newspaper article about allegations PIPS was a scam.
Painther contacted Sheila Biggerstaff, who she said tried to go online to figure out the problem.
“She was very helpful,” Painther said. But she still didn’t get her money back.
Painther made initial contact with law enforcement. She admits the whole deal felt “too good to be true,” but figured if her money was lost, it was a small amount compared to what others lost.
When an article ran last month in the Post about the 11 victims who got compensation, Painther thought she may be able to get her money.
“I am pleased with the way police have followed up with this. I feel confident I will get my money back,” she said.
A Winston-Salem man also told authorities he’d invested money in the PIPS program. Edward Robertson said he believes he was scammed as well but declined to comment further.
Sheila Biggerstaff said Wednesday she was not aware that two more people had come forward alleging they were victims of the PIPS scam. She had no further comment.
The investigation continues.
Others who believe they were victims of the PIPS Internet scam can contact the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office at 704-216-8700.
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.