CRIME

ZeekRewards founder sentenced for role in $850 million scam

FILE - In this Thursday, Nov. 13, 2014, file photo, Paul Burks, former president of ZeekRewards and the online penny auction site Zeekler.com., walks in to federal court in Charlotte, N.C. Burks was sentenced to nearly 15 years behind bars Monday, Feb. 13, 2017, for his lead role in an $850 million online Ponzi scheme that bilked nearly a million people in the U.S. and abroad. (Davie Hinshaw/The Charlotte Observer via AP, File)

FILE - In this Thursday, Nov. 13, 2014, file photo, Paul Burks, former president of ZeekRewards and the online penny auction site Zeekler.com., walks in to federal court in Charlotte, N.C. Burks was sentenced to nearly 15 years behind bars Monday, Feb. 13, 2017, for his lead role in an $850 million online Ponzi scheme that bilked nearly a million people in the U.S. and abroad. (Davie Hinshaw/The Charlotte Observer via AP, File)  (The Associated Press)

The founder of ZeekRewards has been sentenced to nearly 15 years behind bars for his role in an $850 million online Ponzi scheme that bilked nearly a million people in the U.S. and abroad.

Media outlets report 70-year-old Paul Burks was given three concurrent prison sentences of 14 years and eight months Monday after being convicted on four felony fraud charges.

The judge indicated Burks most likely will spend his final days in prison, given his multiple health issues, including cancer. Burks had been free on bond for the past 4 ½ years.

Burks owned ZeekRewards.com, a Lexington, North Carolina-based penny-auction website which gave incentives for recruiting new investors. The site made fanciful promises of 125 percent returns at a time when the economy limped out of the Great Recession.