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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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10th Circ. Sides With DOL In Row Over New Fiduciary Rule

By Dave Simpson of A Tenth Circuit panel Tuesday affirmed a decision upholding the U.S. Department of Labor's new fiduciary rule for retirement account advisers related to fixed indexed annuity sales, agreeing with the lower court that the rule’s critics were given an opportunity to comment on it. The panel agreed with a Kansas federal judge's opinion that the DOL didn't overstep its authority in enacting the rule, which aims to combat conflicts of interest for financial advisers. (Law360) In a unanimous published decision penned by U.S. Circuit Judge Paul Joseph Kelly Jr., the panel agreed with a Kansas federal judge’s opinion that the...

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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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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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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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7 Best Practices For Wealth-Managing Fiduciaries

7 Best Practices For Wealth-Managing Fiduciaries

By Stuart Riemer ( As the U.S. Department of Labor has tried to issue regulations for financial professionals who give retirement advice, and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has previously taken a similar stance for financial advisers under their jurisdiction, the debate over who in the financial services industry should be required to act as a fiduciary has been getting more intense. It’s a contentious issue to be sure, but whether you are charged with managing someone else’s wealth as a trustee, an executor or a financial adviser operating from a fiduciary perspective, having the client’s needs come first is always...

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Ex-SEC Chair Warns Of Adviser Exam Shortfall ‘Disaster’

Ex-SEC Chair Warns Of Adviser Exam Shortfall Disaster

By Ed Beeson of Former U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Mary Jo White on Friday sounded an alarm about the agency’s inability to conduct regular inspections of most registered investment advisers, calling it “a disaster waiting to happen” if the pace can’t be picked up. Speaking at a Practising Law Institute event in New York, White didn’t elaborate on what she meant by disaster, but she said it was one of the things that greatly concerned her during her tenure as Wall Street’s top cop. There are currently about 12,500 advisers registered with the SEC, but the agency’s exam staff are...

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Never Invest in a Company Started or Managed by Your Stockbroker, Insurance Agent, or Investment Advisor

The United States Securities & Exchange Commission recently sued a Colorado investment advisor for fraudulently convincing his clients to invest in a company he started and owned.  The SEC alleges that the investment advisor misrepresented his credentials, the purported safety of the investments he was selling, and his success in creating and operating such companies in the past.  These poor victims violated a cardinal rule of investing:   You should never invest in any company created or managed by your stockbroker, insurance agent, or investment advisor unless and until: You thoroughly check out the so-called “investment opportunity” by having your CPA...

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“Coin Offerings” Can Constitute Securities Sales

Digital "Coin Offerings" Can Constitute Securities Sales

By Evan Weinberger of The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday brought some clarity to the market for “initial coin offerings” when it outlined a test for treating the digital “tokens” that are offered in exchange for money or digital currency as securities, but experts say key questions remain about certain types of tokens that defy easy categorization. The SEC released an investigative report into a German group known as The DAO, a so-called decentralized autonomous organization that used blockchain technology to raise about $150 million last year. The report found that the tokens like those used in The DAO’s...

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