Instead of properly investing the money, authorities say Poulson diverted it for personal use or to pay other investors who also were scammed.
He is charged with mail fraud in a case authorities described as "a multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme."
Poulson could not be reached for comment. Phone calls to numbers listed for his home and office led to recordings that the numbers were disconnected.
In a complaint released Wednesday, authorities allege that Poulson sought out homeowners who were having financial problems and offered to pay off their mortgages to prevent foreclosure.
The homeowners had to agree to sell their homes to him for no other compensation, according to the complaint. Poulson obtained the deeds for more than 25 properties, but made monthly payments instead of paying the mortgages in full, authorities allege.
After the owners left, believing their mortgages had been paid off, he had renters move in.
The complaint alleges that Poulson also stopped making monthly mortgage payments, which led to foreclosures without the homeowners' knowledge.
All the while, authorities allege, Poulson solicited more than 50 private investors interested in acquiring and rehabilitating properties. Poulson allegedly said he would rent and sell properties for a 10 to 20 percent return on the investment.
Poulson provided investors with fake mortgage documents and promissory notes for residential properties he said he was purchasing, renting, and reselling, officials said.
Part of the scheme, officials said, were three weekend seminars, numerous speeches at monthly dinners, and various investment tutoring sessions.
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