Business owners lose $50,000 in product scam

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Becky Gilbert and her husband heard about a company called GNXPERT, which develops new products, from a friend. The couple was interested in a specific product that allows plastic or paint to glow in the dark.

"It didn't seem like ordinary glow in the dark," said Gilbert. "It was very vibrant glow in the dark. It lasts a long time. It was put into anything from car paint to paint for the roads, the striping for the road."

The Gilberts worked in the trucking business and thought the investment was solid -- and GNXPERT made a convincing pitch.

"They brought some of the product and a Power Point presentation to show us. They told us that the opportunity would be to purchase stock at $25,000 per share," said Gilbert. "Everybody is talking about safety in the transportation industry so we were like, wow you know this is an opportunity because we know this product would get sold."

The couple bought two shares for $50,000 -- but 90 days after investing, the Gilbert's optimism turned to disbelief when they received a call from postal inspectors. More than 50 people were victims of the company, with losses totaling $4 million.

"Very foolish at first to think 'how could this possible happen?' We run a business, college educated people, how could this happen to us?" wondered Gilbert.

Inspectors say the product was real, but the company on had an interest in making as much money as possible.

"They had no conscience as far as I can view it, because they were really targeting anyone and everyone in order to get money out of them," said U.S. Postal Inspector Laura Mahlke.

Inspectors warn to be skeptical of investment opportunities you hear about through friends or social groups.

"Do your own checking. What I learned in this case was that this person may believe it is legitimate and they may not realize they are part of the scheme trying to lure you in -- so do your own independent checking of someone trying to sell you investments, stock shares," said Mahlke.

The Gilberts never received any of their money back and say they've been made to feel like they can't trust anyone.

"The anger I felt to have been stolen from -- if you've ever been stolen from and just have something you've worked so hard be taken from you, lied to, a lot of anger, distrust of people in general," Gilbert said.

The main suspect in the case, Janice Lee Keueger, was sentenced to 10 years in prison and ordered to pay more than $161,000.