Seniors are especially vulnerable to scammers who target them, and a San Jose financial elder abuse attorney should be consulted if you are a senior who has been victimized by dishonest and unethical behavior. Unfortunately, many elderly investors were recently scammed out of more than $1 million by the pastor of a megachurch.
The pastor has now been charged with six counts of wire fraud and five counts of money laundering by the federal government and is also facing charges for conspiracy to commit both wire fraud and money laundering, according to CNN. Civil charges have also been filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission against the 64-year-old senior pastor. A manager of a financial group has been charged as well.
Pastor Charged for Defrauding Elderly Investors
According to CNN, the pastor and financial manager took money from 29 investors, most of whom were elderly, by selling the seniors Chinese bonds. The pastor and financial manager claimed that the bonds had been issued prior to the 1949 revolution and were still good. They told the senior investors that because the bonds were so historic, they were worth tens of millions of dollars or even hundreds of millions of dollars.
According to the story, however, the bonds were actually nothing more than collectible memorabilia. They had no actual investment value at all, as the bonds have been in default since before 1940 and the debts are not recognized by the current Chinese government.
The senior victims who were eager to invest in the bonds spent a fortune doing so, and, in some cases, the seniors liquidated their annuities and other investments in order to make this “investment.” The pastor and money manager allegedly spent their ill-gotten gains on mortgage payments, luxury cars, and other personal expenses. While the SEC estimates that the investors lost around $1 million because of the scheme, the SEC believes that the value is even higher and that as much as $3.4 million was lost.
This was not the first time that the money manager had engaged in improper behavior. The SEC indicated that he was permanently barred from association with broker-dealers in 2010. The money manager’s original misconduct involved misappropriation of investor funds.
The megachurch where the pastor preached did not respond to a request for comment from CNN. The pastor and the money manager could face a sentence of up to 20 years if they are convicted on the federal charges. They could also be fined as much as $1 million, could be required to make restitution to their victims, and their assets could be subject to forfeiture.
When financial fraud against a senior occurs, criminal charges can punish those who are guilty, but elder victims should always pursue a civil case to obtain compensation for the financial loss and other relief to which they are entitled under California law including the award of attorneys’ fees and costs. A San Jose financial elder abuse attorney can provide representation to victims in exploring all of their options to recover funds that they have lost due to fraudulent behavior. To find out more about how an attorney can help, contact Evans Law Firm online or call 415-441-8669 for a free initial consultation today.