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How criminals steal $37 billion a year from America’s elderly

How criminals steal $37 billion a year from America's elderly

By Bloomberg News Marjorie Jones trusted the man who called to tell her she'd won a sweepstakes prize, saying she could collect the winnings once she paid the taxes and fees. After she wired the first payment, he and other callers kept adding conditions to convince her to send more money. As the scheme progressed, Ms. Jones, who was legally blind and lived alone in a two-story house in Moss Bluff, La., depleted her savings, took out a reverse mortgage and cashed in a life insurance policy. She didn't tell her family, not even the sister who lived next door. Scammers often push...

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Beware of Annuity Exchanges!

Beware of Annuity Exchanges

by Scott Starr Annuities are some of the highest commission products available for an insurance agent or a stockbroker to sell.  Many times, annuities are more beneficial for the salesman than they are for the client.  That is because in addition to the hefty commissions the stockbroker or insurance agent earns for selling these investments, the annuities themselves frequently have very high expense ratios which come off the top before an owner receives any benefit.  Furthermore, annuities are typically extremely illiquid meaning that they are very difficult to get out of or cash in without paying a hefty penalty.  Because of...

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Stock Fraudsters Prey on the Retired

Starr Austen & Miller has represented over 1,400 investors who have lost their hard earned savings to bad brokers and investment fraud.  Almost always the victim is an elderly person or someone nearing retirement who is defrauded of all or nearly all of their retirement savings. The article, " Pa. Broker Gets 5 Years for $2M Ponzi Scheme" from, an article authored by Hayley Fowler, summarizes a similar case. Bad stock brokers and bad investment advisors will quote high returns while touting the “safety” of the investment they are pushing.  This pitch is especially attractive to retired folks who are worried...

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Adviser admits defrauding former [Indianapolis] Colt of $4.7M

“Anyone can be the victim of securities fraud. See the Indianapolis Business Journal article below. If you or a loved one has been victimized by a bad broker or bad investment advisor, contact Starr Austen & Miller for a free consultation.” - Scott Starr By: Greg Andrews of the Indianapolis Business Journal Cory Redding, a defensive end for the Colts from 2012 to 2014, was referred to financial adviser Kenneth Ray Cleveland by a business professor at Redding’s alma mater, the University of Texas. (AP photo) It might be little consolation to former Indianapolis Colt Cory Redding—the latest in a long line of...

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Indiana woman indicted in ‘largest coordinated sweep’ of elder fraud cases in history

Indiana woman indicted in 'largest coordinated sweep' of elder fraud cases in history

By: Jordan Fischer of A Morgan County woman was charged in federal court Wednesday as part of what the Department of Justice is calling the “largest coordinated sweep of elder fraud cases in history.” U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions was joined Thursday by state and federal officials to announce charges against more than 250 people around the globe for their alleged roles in fraudulent schemes targeting the elderly. The DOJ said those schemes involved mass mailings, telemarketing and investment frauds to individual instances of identity theft and theft by guardians. The agency also said it had identified “transnational criminal organizations” involved in defrauding “hundreds of thousands...

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New rules look to help elderly fraud victims

New rules look to help elderly fraud victims

By Nick McGill of Advocates for the elderly are calling new rules designed to help protect the elderly from fraud a “step in the right direction.” Starting Monday, brokers can place temporary holds on accounts of elderly clients who may have been victims of financial exploitation, thanks to new rules by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. “If we’re finding ways for these different people in different positions to be able to respond when they have legitimate reasonable concerns, that’s wonderful, because we’re going to have to find ways as a society to help protect those vulnerable elders,” said Ken Bennett with the...

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Judge orders ex-CEO to pay nearly $850K in Veros Ponzi scheme

Judge orders ex-CEO to pay nearly $850K in Veros Ponzi scheme

By Dave Stafford / The Indiana Lawyer A former finance company chief with a history of securities law violations has been ordered to pay almost $850,000 in connection with the sale of securities based on farm loans. Former Pin Financial LLC chief executive Tobin Senefeld of Indianapolis was ordered Tuesday to pay a total of $843,356 in a lawsuit the Securities and Exchange Commission filed against him, his firm and Veros Farm Loan Holding LLC. The SEC said defendants violated securities laws in a Ponzi scheme. Rather than funding current farming operations, as investors were told, proceeds of the securities were used to cover farms’...

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Top Investor Threats Revealed

Top investor threats revealed

By The Herald-Tribune Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson has released the annual list of top investor threats and reminded Hoosiers to use caution when approached with any unsolicited investment opportunities. The top threats were determined by surveying members of the North American Securities Administrators Association, of which the Indiana Secretary of State’s office is a member, to identify the most frequently identified source of current investor complaints or investigations. The following were cited most often: Promissory notes– A promissory note is a written promise to pay (or repay) a specified sum of money at a stated time in the future...

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FRAUD: CFTC Sues Bitcoin Ponzi Scheme Operator

CFTC Sues Bitcoin Crytocurrency Ponzi Scheme Operator

By Nicole D. Prysby, Senior Attorney, National Legal Research Group The price of Bitcoin has soared in recent months, from approximately $900 in January 2017 to a current price of over $15,000. But even before the 2017 increase, Bitcoin had periods where its value rose sharply. For example, in 2013, it went from about $15 to $800. Bitcoin’s short-term gains have made it a very attractive hook for would-be Ponzi scheme developers. In fall 2017, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) sued Gelfman Blueprint, Inc. (“GBI”), and GBI’s Chief Executive Officer (“CEO”) for operating a Bitcoin Ponzi scheme that allegedly defrauded...

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Man behind $1M scam gets 7 1/2-year sentence

By Mitchell Kirk – Pharos Tribune (Logansport, Indiana) A former Logansport man received a 7 1/2-year sentence in federal court on Thursday and was ordered to pay back the $985,000 he's accused of fraudulently obtaining. Larry Westby, 65, Vanderbilt, Michigan, was indicted in August 2016 on charges of mail fraud, money laundering and fraud in the offer and sale of securities. The FBI, IRS and Indiana Secretary of State's office accused the former Logansport resident of fraudulently obtaining about $985,800 from investors and causing losses to investors of about $903,128. Westby started a company called LMW Inc. he based in Indianapolis with the reported...

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