Feds charge New York investor with defrauding Durham’s NC Mutual of $34 million

The News and Observer

By Zachery Eanes

December 4, 2020

In a statement, the department said it was pleased with Reifler’s indictment.

“Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey and the Department are hopeful this action by U.S. DOJ will result in a resolution favorable to the policyholders who have suffered because of Mr. Reifler’s actions,” N.C. DOI spokesman Barry Smith said in an email.

The future of the company is still up in the air, but the Department of Insurance has entered into 17 nondisclosure agreements with parties interested in investing in NC Mutual, according to a quarterly report it files about its stewardship of the company.

Founded in 1898 by John Merrick, NC Mutual became one of the largest Black-owned businesses in the U.S. by serving African-Americans who were discriminated against by white financial institutions. Together with businesses like M&F Bank, the company formed Black Wall Street in Durham, making the city one of the nation’s hubs of the Black middle class during the mid-20th century.

Henry McKoy, director of entrepreneurship at N.C. Central University, told The N&O last year that NC Mutual was a crucial part of Black middle class success in Durham, noting that its financial arm reinvested in the Black community, spurring other entrepreneurs and businesses to grow.