My dad told me this story originally in the late 1980s, and it came up in a conversation with my brother over the weekend. It's a 10-page type story but I'll try to limit to forty lines.
Where I grew up....rural northwest Alabama....we had one single local tour bus 'company'. I refer to it as a company but it was simply one single bus that locals could rent for a group trip to Opryland, Six Flags, a Braves game, etc. It was run by a local gal....married to a guy who had a 'real' job beyond the bus deal. She'd run the bus company for at least a dozen years or more.
At some point, she lets on to locals on tours that she had some knowledge of investing, and she was tied up into some network that delivered real payoffs for investing. Her source could seek out and get big pay-offs. Course, this being the late 1980s and the standard CD paying near 9-percent....you'd have to ask why take enormous risks when you were getting a terrific pay-off with banks on CDs? But these were folks who were not satisfied.
So as the months went by....she convinced a number of folks to part with their money....up to around $3.6-million (the highest in the $700,000 range). For these folks, it was their life savings. They all wanted the BIG money.
Questions arose....cops got called, and then a court adventure opens up. Roughly 300 charges are done, and the question is....where is the money.
Her response is....there's this mystery guy who takes the money from her hands and does this magic investing. Well.....what's his number? Where does he live? Nothing really comes out of this discussion. Charges are mostly done against the gal, and her son (he apparently was handling the money to some degree). The husband? None. No one can show any connection of the husband to any of this fake investing.
Days, months pass, and the gal makes a deal.....she'll take the blunt of the court episode and accept a guilty situation. The son walks free. The judge hands down a conviction of 800 years, but to run concurrently. So the max she'll ever serve? Twelve years. She's supposed to pay back the money, but that will probably never occur.
Somewhere in the 2004/2005 era....she gets finished with the jail sentence and walks free. The odd thing? Well....this was not a federal or state charge episode.....it was a local deal, and the whole sentence was served in the county jail. Frankly, I can't think of anyone who ever spent more than a year or two in a county jail.
The 3.6-million? Well....it just never has appeared. Both the woman and the son still live in the region. Neither appear with any wealth or status in life.
The odds of this mystery man existing? That's the thing. You have to go and wonder if such a mystery guy could exist and convince this woman to do some might stupid stuff for prison time.
I'm of the mind that on these travels with the bus groups, she might have accidentally bumped into some guy in Nashville and he laid out this gimmick. The Alabama investigative folks? You just don't get the impression that they were capable of figuring out the money angle to this. And no one seemed to want to ask the FBI to step in and do real analysis.
The 3.6-million simply just disappeared.
It'd make for a fine epic movie, but who would believe that this was all true?