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ELKHART, Ind. — An Elkhart man is accused of swindling people out of hundreds of thousands of dollars and possibly trying to have them killed.

Charles Ray Smith is charged with federal wire fraud and made his first court appearance on Monday.

The FBI believes Smith took at least $300,000 from four victims, beginning in 2009. He told them to expect millions in return for investments in things like commercial property. The victims saw no return on their investments and the FBI says Smith used their money to put a down payment on a house.

Federal investigators also believe Smith may have planned to kill the people he ripped off. Once the victims started talking to police, Smith made arrangements to have his victims and other people who wronged him killed, according to a confidential FBI source.

If convicted, Smith could spend 20 years in prison, owe up to $250,000 in fines, and be required to pay restitution to his victims.

Smith will appear in court Tuesday for a probable cause hearing.