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Mar 14, 2024 by |

Atherton/Menlo Park Financial Elder Abuse Attorneys: Elderly Investors Defrauded By Investment Advisor


Ponzi Scheme Targeting Mostly Older Customers

Lost Savings And Homes At Risk Of Foreclosure

Scheme Lasted Many Years

Seniors are often targets of Ponzi schemes, where money collected from new investors is used to pay existing investors, and there really is no actual investment of funds. Like the infamous Bernie Madoff case, Ponzi schemes can go on for years until they finally collapse or are detected by law enforcement or perceptive investors.  Fraud doers cover their tracks with fake statements, and distributions which are in fact the invested money of other, newer investors. Such schemes violate securities laws and, when the victims are seniors, also constitute financial elder abuse and may involve other crimes.  See Penal Code § 368 and Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code § 15610.30 (definition of financial elder abuse).   Evans Law Firm, Inc. can represent you if you lose money in a Ponzi scheme or any other type of securities fraud or financial elder abuse here in Atherton or Menlo Park or elsewhere in San Mateo County.  If you have, call our lawyers today at (415)441-8669.  Our toll-free number is 1-888-50EVANS (888-503-8267).

Recent Sentencing In Ponzi Scheme Case[1] 

An unlicensed “investment advisor” was sentenced in federal court earlier this year to 75 months in prison for fraud in connection with his scheme to defraud investors, many of whom were elderly.  “It is heartbreaking to read the victim statements describing how their lives have been dramatically altered – no retirement, no funds to care for disabled children, in one instance a victim’s home placed at risk of foreclosure,” said U.S. Attorney Nick Brown. “From the mid-1990s until 2021, [defendant] led his victims – mostly friends and family members — to believe that he was successfully investing their funds for retirement. He sent fake statements showing significant gains. In truth, since at least 2013, the investment fund was insolvent and losing value, and [defendant] took more than $1 million in fees for his own benefit.”  As the financial picture worsened, defendant allegedly paid off earlier investors with money from new investors –a classic Ponzi scheme.  Speaking in court today, one elderly victim said defendant is a “pathological liar.” Another wrote to the court “He is a con, nothing more than that in my eyes.” A 91-year-old victim wrote “He needs to be held accountable for the many lives he has shattered.”

 “Red Flags” Of Ponzi Schemes

Here are some of the classic “red flags” of Ponzi schemes like the one involved in the reported case:

  • High returns with little or no risk.  Be especially suspicious of any “guaranteed” investment opportunity.
  • Overly consistent/guaranteed returns. Investments tend to go up and down over time. Be skeptical about an investment that regularly generates positive returns regardless of overall market conditions.
  • Unregistered investments. Ponzi schemes typically involve investments that are not registered with the SEC or with state regulators. Registration is important because it provides investors with access to information about the company’s management, products, services, and finances.
  • Unlicensed sellers. Federal and state securities laws require investment professionals and firms to be licensed or registered. Most Ponzi schemes involve unlicensed individuals or unregistered firms.
  • Issues with paperwork. Account statement errors may be a sign that funds are not being invested as promised.
  • Difficulty receiving payments. Be suspicious if you don’t receive a payment or have difficulty cashing out. Ponzi scheme promoters sometimes try to prevent participants from cashing out by offering even higher returns for staying put.

Contact Us

If you or a loved one has been the victim of a Ponzi scheme or other form of financial elder abuse in Atherton or Menlo Park or elsewhere in San Mateo County contact Ingrid M. Evans at Evans Law Firm, Inc. at (415) 441-8669, or by email at <a href=””></a>. Our toll-free number is 1-888-50EVANS (888-503-8267). 

[1] Evans Law Firm, Inc. was not involved in the case in any way.

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