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Retirement Planning > Retirement Investing > Annuity Investing

Crooked advisors prey on retirees and seniors

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A St. Louis broker is going to prison for stealing nearly $4 million from fellow Orthodox Jews and spending the money on adult entertainment.

The broker embezzled $1.5 million of the $4 million from a St. Louis retiree supposedly to invest in a mortgage company. Instead, he used the funds for personal expenses, including car and mortgage payments, payment of substantial personal credit card bills, the renovation of his personal residence, jewelry and entertainment at local strip clubs.

He also allegedly used the money to finance start-up costs and operational costs of several business ventures. Authorities say the advisor engaged in a Ponzi-type scheme, using client funds to pay off other clients’ trade requests after he had liquidated their securities without their knowledge.

The broker pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of mail fraud. He now faces 20 years in prison, a $500,000 fine and an order to make full restitution.

Annuity agent runs amok

Authorities arrested a Florida annuity agent on charges of perpetrating an organized scheme to defraud and commit grand theft during senior annuity transactions. The arrest follows a nine-month suspension and a $25,000 fine previously levied against the agent.

According to Florida officials, the agent made several seminar presentations to senior groups in the Palm Beach County area. He then scammed seniors into buying unsuitable annuities, earning thousands of dollars in commissions while leaving his victims without access to their life savings. He also induced seniors into signing promissory notes paying high interest rates. After they purchased the notes, the agent failed to make all the interest payments, calling his clients with excuses for the missed payments.

A ‘classic’ Ponzi scheme

A Charlotte, N.C., advisor was sentenced to at least 29 years in prison for securities fraud relating to a $600,000 mortgage investment scheme. According to authorities, the advisor lured 25 investors in several states to invest $636,000 with him to buy and sell mortgages.

He promised them up to 10 percent quarterly rates of return. Instead of buying and selling mortgages, the advisor ran a classic Ponzi scheme, converting the bulk of the client money to his personal use. Investor money was used to pay for trips to Hawaii, Cancun and other locations as well as for vehicles, clothing, jewelry and personal bills.

For more articles about rogue advisors, see:

Rogue advisors: Still plenty o’ Ponzi schemes

Senior alert: New law, new scam

Rogue advisors: Pick your fraud, any fraud

Harry Lew is the communications and content director for the National Ethics Bureau.


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