It is no secret that Senior Citizens have been the target of conmen, scammers, rip-off artists, fraudsters for decades, but what is new is who is now doing the scamming, ripping-off, and stealing Senior Citizen’s money. The latest trend against Senior Citizens is being done by their fellow Senior Citizens and Professionals they thought they could trust. Yes, I did say fellow Senior Citizens and by Professionals.
So if you are a Senior Citizen, who do you trust? NO-ONE! You now have to do as much due diligence on your professional provider as you do investment firms today.
Here are just a few of the seniors and professionals who scammed their fellow seniors in the past year:
Bernard Madoff – 70 The Godfather of Senior Scammers
Andy Bowdoin - 74
Maxwell Smith -69
Paul Greenwood – 62
Stephen Walsh – 65
Larry Atkins - 65
Judith Zabalaoui - 71
Arthur Nadel - 76
Richard Piccoli - 82
Ronald Keith Owens - 73
James Blackman Roberts - 71
Patrick âPatâ Kiley - 71
Gregory Bartko - 56
Kenneth Kenitzer - 66
Julia Ann Schmidt - 68
Eugene D. Miley - 58
David F. Merrick - 61
Richard M. Harkless – 65
Lawrence Dwain Hoover - 71
Daniel William Heath - 81
What is just as shocking as these Senior Citizens scamming their fellow Senior Citizens is the number of Professionals who have also joined the ranks of scamming their Senior Citizen clients. Here is just a small sampling of attorneys, insurance agents, financial planners, accountants, stock brokers, pastors, and even a radio host, who have targeted their Senior Citizen clients:
Paul Greenwood. 62, and Stephen Walsh, 65, principals in WCM and an arm known as WG Trading of Greenwich, Conn., both were arrested. WCM is headquartered in Santa Barbara, Calif. Greenwood and Walsh were accused of securities fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy. They were sued last week by Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh amid fears that $114 million had been lost as a result of massive fraud. The Iowa Public Employees Retirement System (IPERS) severed its contract with WCM earlier this week, on the heels of the action by CMU and Pitt and in the wake of the suspension of Greenwood and Walsh from the National Futures Association for stonewalling during an audit. IPERS entrusted $339 million to WCM. Investigators called it a $1.3 billion scam. In a separate action, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission charged Greenwood, Walsh and others with fraud.
Larry Atkins, 65, a former insurance salesman was charged with 78 felonies. Authorities said he ran a Ponzi scheme that stole more than $3 million from at least 30 victims, including senior citizens and vulnerable adults. Some of the elements of the Atkins Ponzi are similar to the alleged AdSurfDaily Ponzi, which roped in senior citizens and others across the United States based on assurances that everything was legal.
Judith Zabalaoui, 71, is accused of an elaborate scheme in which she set up fraudulent investment companies, used UPS stores to trick customers into thinking they were brick-and-mortar firms, created âfictitious employees and spun a web of deception for years, prosecutors said. The UPS stores were in Colorado and Delaware, but Zabalaoui ran the scheme out of Alabama and Louisiana, prosecutors said. To pull off the deception, she called UPS mailboxes suites, and promised investors “guaranteed” returns of up to 26 percent. She took in $3 Million Dollars mostly from senior citizens.
Robert Miracle, 48, of Bellevue, Wash., has been charged with running a $65 million Ponzi scheme; as well as Mukhtar Kechik and Fahimi Fisal, two Malaysian nationals. Prosecutors said Miracle operated a number of companies allegedly involved in oil development in Malaysia and Indonesia. Miracle and his co-defendants represented to investors that these companies were making money from oil-field development and from the sale of oil-field services, prosecutors said. In fact, prosecutors said, the funds of later investors were used to pay off the investments of earlier investors. Between September 2004 and October 2007, Miracle took in more than $65 million from investors and paid out more than $36 million in returns to investors, using funds from later investors. The remainder of the investor monies â more than $28 million was used in a failed effort to develop oil and gas on fields in Indonesia, as well as to pay for a lavish lifestyle for Miracle and his cohorts. The majority of the people who lost money in his scam were senior citizens.
Isaac I. Ovid, 28, an ordained minister in the church and a citizen and resident of Trinidad & Tobago; Aaron Riddle, 34, of Narvon, Pa.; Bob Riddle, 59, the father of Aaron Riddle and a resident of New Holland, Pa.; J. Jonathan Coleman, 40, of Astoria, N.Y.; Stephen Cina, 32, of Westbury, N.Y.; Cory A. Martin, 31,of Westbury, N.Y.; and Timothy Smith, 35, of Ephrata, Pa, members of a Queens church were charged, by the SEC. The scheme targeted âmostly elderlyâ members of the church, fleecing them of $12 Million Dollars, the SEC said. Also charged in New York were Jadis Capital Inc., Jadis Investments LLC and Logos Multi-Strategy Hedge Fund I LP. Church leaders targeted their own parishioners and betrayed the sincere trust placed in them.
Terence Mayfield, 47, of Phoenix fleeced members of the Church of Grace and Peace in Toms River, N.J. out of more than $1 Million Dollars, by getting them to invest in fraudulent real-estate schemes. One of the scams involved foreclosure bailouts. The scams were uncovered by an attorney who belonged to the church and notified authorities. Mayfield had been a guest minister at the church and soon pitched an opportunity offered by his Pennsylvania company, known as 4 Life LLC. Congregants were told that My Home Bank, or MHB, would help investors eliminate debt and build wealth through investments in income-generating real estate, Mayfield positioned himself as a legitimate investment advisor and required each potential investor to pay between approximately $1,000 and $1,500 as an âentry fee to the [My Home Banc] program, Beginning in May 2007, Mayfield solicited prospects to invest in a program he referred to as foreclosure bailouts, Mayfield explained that the investor would buy the home of a homeowner who was at risk of foreclosure and then lease the home back to the homeowner for a two-year period. The homeowner would then use a portion of the proceeds to pay the investor an investment fee and Mayfield a broker’s fee.
Matthew Scott, 50, of Elmhust, Ill., was charged with mail fraud telling investors their funds would be used to purchase or finance the purchase of high-speed commercial printers that would be sold to third-party buyers at a profit. The machines were said to be valued in excess of $100,000, and Scott claimed his mark-up of 20 percent led to big profits. His company, Gelsco, neither purchased nor financed such printers, the FBI said. The scheme collected at least $28 Million Dollars, mostly from senior citizens, between early 2000 and March 2009 before unraveling.
Kenneth Kenitzer, 66, of Pleasanton has become the most recent senior citizen to face significant jail time for his actions in a Ponzi and affinity fraud scheme. The California Ponzi fleeced investors and churchgoers out of at least $40 million, authorities said. Kenitzer is expected to plead guiltyâin the near futureâ to wire fraud and money-laundering for his role in the alleged Equity Investment Management and Trading Inc. (EIMT) scheme.
Julia Ann Schmidt,68, alleged Ponzi schemer from Texas, posed as an investment adviser using the name of Fortis Investments, a famous European brand with U.S. reach. Schmidt knew she was about to get caught, and called a meeting of investors, telling them that she was rolling over their investments into an insurance annuity. She allegedly brought the man pretending to be Jack Layne Jr. to the meeting, telling investors their money was safe because Jack Layne Jr. was handling all the investor accounts through a local Waco law firm.
Richard Piccoli,83, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for recruiting Catholics and senior citizens into a Ponzi scheme heâd been operating since 1975. He had managed to fleece investors out of as much as $25 million, leading to adevastating consequences for the victims, prosecutors said. And yes I did say 83!
Eugene D. Miley, 58, defrauded credit unions in Armstrong, Westmoreland and Luzerne counties out of $2 million in a Ponzi scheme, said Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett. Miley served as a financial broker for clients, offering to locate and purchase high-interest-rate certificates of deposit (CDs) for those institutions. âInstead of purchasing CDs, Miley allegedly diverted the funds for his own personal use, depending on new credit union purchases to pay-off older fictitious investments, prosecutors said.
David F. Merrick, 61, and his companies Traders International Return Network (TIRN), MS Inc., GTT Services Inc., MDD Consulting Inc. and Go! Tourism Inc were charged as issuers of unregistered securities, unregistered investment advisers and operators of unregistered foreign investment companies from inside the United States. Entities Merrick controls operated a Ponzi scheme that gathered at least $22 million, the SEC said. For its part, CFTC charged Merrick and TIRN with solicitation fraud, accusing them of misappropriating customer funds totaling at least $16.4 million.
Richard M. Harkless, 65, was convicted of wire fraud, mail fraud and money-laundering in a $60 million Ponzi scheme has been sentenced to 100 years in prison and ordered to pay nearly $35.5 million in restitution. Harkless operated the MX Factors Ponzi scheme earlier this decade. Separately, Richard M. Harkless was ordered to pay $42 million in disgorgement, prejudgment interest and civil penalties in a case brought by the SEC. Three accomplices were ordered to pay assessments totaling $28 million and sentenced to a combined total of up to 18 years in prison. The scheme featured payouts to whet the appetites of investors, a program designed to encourage them to ‘roll over’ money to keep it in the system and appeals to get family members and friends involved, prosecutors said. Harkless 100-year sentence is believed to be the longest sentence for a white-collar crime ever handed down in the Central District of California, and the judge minced no words in condemning the scheme.
Daniel William Heath, 81, the last and biggest of four con artists who targeted the elderly over an 11-year span, drew a sentence of 127 years for his part in a scam that swindled more than 1,800 seniors including many from San Diego out of $187 million. Heath’s actions forced hundreds of elderly retirees, many of whom had turned over all their life savings, to spend the rest of their lives in poverty.
Reed E. Slatkin, 54, seemed as much trusted friend as money manager. He schmoozed clients with tips on how to landscape their estates, attended funerals of their family members and all the while offered assurances that he would protect their college and retirement funds. Slatkin has admitted he fabricated account statements that showed clients beating the stock market’s heady returns of the late 1990s, while using their funds to pay for airplanes, luxury cars, real estate, artwork and gold for himself. During more than 15 years of fraud it cost his senior citizen investors $240 million.
Jeffrey Gordon Butler, 50, helped his senior-citizen clients prepare their wills and trusts. Next, they say, he offered a great return — up to 12 percent a year — if the seniors invested their retirement funds with him¦ Then they say he took their money ¦$11.4 Million Dollars.
Lawrence Dwain Hoover, 71, who served two decades on the Baptist Foundation of Arizona’s board will plead guilty to his involvement in scamming about 11,000 senior citizens investors in a $600 Million Dollar scam. One of the nation’s largest nonprofit bankruptcy filings recorded to date.
Gregory Bartko, 56, a Georgia attorney, representing defendants in the alleged “Billionaire Boys Club” Ponzi scheme in Michigan has been indicted in North Carolina on charges he ran his own securities-fraud scheme. Bartko and a co-defendant were charged with three counts of mail fraud and two counts of making false statements. In North Carolina, prosecutors said Bartko operated a criminal investment fraud scheme and held himself out as an investment banker to carry out the scheme. Prosecutors said the scheme also involved conspiring to commit mail fraud, laundering monetary instruments, engaging in unlawful monetary transactions, making false statements and obstructing proceedings of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Michael J. Morris, 29, and William T. Perkins, 54, were charged and arrested, amid allegations they fleeced 21 Michigan churches out of $660,000 in a Ponzi and affinity fraud scheme in which pastors were duped into giving a leasing company access to church bank accounts. The cherry wood cabinet with a computer screen delivered last year to King was on display Monday at a press conference where Cox was joined by 20 Metro Detroit victims. The ministers were promised that national advertising already in place would cover lease payments, and the churches could make money by selling ads to local sponsors for the machines that stood in church lobbies playing printed and video messages. But the men sold each machine to a leasing company for up to $29,000, and the contracts the ministers signed obligated them to make payments to the leasing company totaling up to $39,000.
Patrick ’Pat’ Kiley, 71, Radio talk-show host is among the defendants accused in an emergency action by the SEC of operating a $190 million Ponzi scheme in Minnesota. Also charged were Trevor G. Cook, UBS Diversified Growth LLC, Universal Brokerage FX Management LLC, Oxford Global Advisors LLC, Oxford Global Partners LLC and four shell companies. Several companies were named relief defendants. âCook and Kiley told investors that their money would be invested safely and profitably, said Merri Jo Gillette, director of the SEC’s Chicago Regional Office. Instead, they went on a $40 million-plus spending spree with investors’ money and lost another $40 million in risky foreign currency trading.
Gone are the days when you could automatically trust your professional advisor. Now you have to research them as much as you do the type of investments you are considering purchasing. Get a second opinion on any program any professional advisor is recommending you to join. Whether it is a lawyer, , accountant, former or current pastor, insurance agent, radio host, or financial advisor; they must be registered to sell securities. THERE ARE NO EXCEPTIONS TO THIS RULE! Make them show you their license that allows them to sell securities. If they don’t have it, they can’t sell it LEGALLY.
Check out the company that is selling the investment opportunity to make sure they are licensed and registered to sell securities with the SEC. We have links on our website (Click on Consumer Assistance Link) where you can check out a broker or a company to make sure they are properly licensed. If they do not appear on either of these registry’s, they are not allowed to sell securities or offer any securities. DO NOT INVEST if they don’t appear.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us DON’T BECOME A VICTIM just because you thought you could trust the person selling you any investment. Always check it out, and do your due diligence. Remember, not only are professionals you think you can trust scamming you, but your fellow Senior Citizens are scamming you. And always remember to report when you are a victim to your local law enforcement agency, your local DA, the state Attorney General, and to the IC3 and the SEC. All state and federal agencies to whom you should report this crime are found on our website. They take you directly to the online complaint form for your convenience.