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Jul 27, 2022 by |

San Mateo County Financial Elder Abuse Attorneys: Man Sentenced For Role In $12 Million Ponzi Scheme Against Mostly Older Investors

ATTORNEY NEWSLETTER

Defendant Was Accountant And Financial Advisor To Elderly

Claimed Investments Were As Safe As CDs

Much Of The $12 Million Came From Victims’ Retirement Savings

Any American can be a victim of investment fraud but older investors are particularly vulnerable to fraud.  Financial predators may target older investors with high-yield ventures, seizing on senior anxiety about the stock market, their need for income in the future, escalating inflation, and escalating care costs. The offered “opportunity” may be a risky, unregistered investment with little chance of living up to its hype or an outright Ponzi scheme, where money collected from new investors is used to pay existing investors, and there really is no actual investment of funds at all.  Unregistered investments sold to unqualified investors or fraudulent Ponzi schemes violate securities laws (see, e.g, Rule 10b-5 of the Securities Exchange Act, 17 C.F.R. 240.10b-5), and, when the victims are seniors, constitute financial elder abuse and may involve other crimes.  See Penal Code § 368(crime of financial elder abuse) and Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code § 15610.30 (definition of financial elder abuse).   Evans Law Firm, Inc. can represent you if you lose money as a result of financial elder abuse in San Mateo County or elsewhere in the San Francisco Bay Area or throughout California.  If you have, call our lawyers today at (415)441-8669.  Our toll-free number is 1-888-50EVANS (888-503-8267).

Broker Sentenced For Alleged Ponzi Scheme[1] 

In a recently reported case, a broker was sentenced to up to ten-and-a-half years in prison for his role in a $12 million Ponzi scheme that targeted nearly 50 victims—many of them seniors—between 2015 and 2017.  The District Attorney in charge of the case said that beginning in January 2015, an elderly victim for whom defendant worked as a personal accountant and financial advisor agreed to invest approximately $385,000 into a company at defendant’s urging. Defendant allegedly assured his client that the investment was safe, had no risk, and the principal would be returned after a two-year waiting period with additional 4% interest, like a certificate of deposit.  After waiting for two years, the victim requested the return of the money, but received a payment of only $26,699.  Defendant then allegedly told the client her money had to be paid back in installments. The victim continued to ask for the return of the remaining principal and interest, but defendant stopped communicating with her.

An investigation commenced after the elderly victim reported the incident.  The investigation revealed that defendant and his co-conspirators victimized nearly 50 individuals and had scammed them out of a total of $12 million. Many of the victims were senior citizens who trusted the defendants with their retirement savings, according to the DA.  Defendants allegedly created a sham website where clients could view their accounts and the interest supposedly being earned.  However, instead of investing the money in any business, the defendants used the money to fund their own enterprises, make personal purchases and paying other victims of the scheme.  Some of the stolen funds were also used for the down payment on defendant’s home, which had a swimming pool and tennis court, according to the DA.

“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 or overly consistent returns with little or no risk.  Be especially suspicious of any “guaranteed” investment opportunity like the promise allegedly made in the reported case. 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.
  • 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 San Mateo County or elsewhere in California contact Ingrid M. Evans at Evans Law Firm, Inc. at (415) 441-8669, or by email at <a href=”mailto:info@evanslaw.com”>info@evanslaw.com</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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