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Life Health > Annuities

Rogue advisors perpetrate securities, mail fraud

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A Texas insurance agent who used to run ads saying, “We don’t promise to make you rich, but we guarantee not to make you poor,” has pleaded guilty to 15 counts of securities fraud that made clients $5 million poorer. The agent had been indicted in 2009 for selling phony “private annuities” and promissory notes to elderly clients. The rogue agent, who faces up to 99 years in prison, came under suspicion after the guardian of a client sued him and his business partner for failing to make payments on the client’s investment. According to the lawsuit, the two scammers convinced the 80-year-old woman to invest $941,756 in nine “private annuities,” which weren’t slated to come due for 10 years. A judge later ruled the woman incompetent. According to authorities, the phony annuities claimed to pay interest of 8 percent, and the promissory notes as high as 9 percent.

Five Virginia advisors have been sentenced in connection with a life-settlement fraud that scammed 800clients out of more than $100 million. The advisors admitted they falsely promoted life-settlement products to elderly investors. In their marketing pitches, they lied about the firm’s prior success, its size and location, the risk of the products sold, and the safekeeping of client funds. Among the five employees sentenced were three senior executives. The firm’s general counsel received 188 months in prison and its former owner and founder 120 months. The former president was sentenced to 60 months in jail. Two lower-level employees were sentenced to 60 months and 36 months, respectively.

A Florida advisor has pleaded guilty to mail fraud in connection with a $30-million investment scheme. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. According to authorities, the defendant operated a company that systematically defrauded victims, claiming it could generate returns of up to 20 percent per month, compounded monthly, by trading in the foreign currency market. The defendant and his employees raised nearly $30 million from clients, but invested only a small percentage of those funds in Forex trading, most of which was lost. Instead, the defendant operated a classic Ponzi scheme, paying off new investors with old investors’ money, and siphoning off funds for expensive real estate, private jet travel, luxury automobiles, computer equipment and jewelry.

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