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An affinity for fraud

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A Washington “faith-based financial advisor” has been sentenced to 18 years in prison for affinity fraud. He preyed on members of Christian churches in several Washington counties, as well as on consumers in four other states. During his scam spree, the advisor used more than a dozen aliases, conducting investment seminars and amassing client retirement assets without a license. Through his social and church-based dealings, he won people’s trust, and then spent their life’s savings on a lavish personal lifestyle.

A California life insurance agent was arrested for bilking several elderly retirees out of at least $350,000 in retirement savings and then spending the money on her gambling habit. The agent sold annuities to her clients, then steered them into fraudulent real estate investments. She promised returns of between 10 percent and 20 percent, making some initial payments, then promising to return the funds later. In exchange for fun and games at a California casino, the agent is now facing 92 criminal charges, including grand theft, embezzlement and burglary.

A New Jersey advisor was sentenced to 30 years in prison for scamming investors out of some $6 million in a Ponzi-type scheme. He had pleaded guilty to mail fraud and money laundering in June 2008. According to prosecutors, the advisor falsely claimed to have defense contracts in Iraq with a New Jersey trucking firm. Based on this relationship, he promised extraordinary returns, but was really paying off earlier investors with later investor funds. According to published reports, the advisor became a fugitive early this year, but was later arrested in Florida.