Although fraudulent actions surrounding self-directed IRAs can, unfortunately, happen anywhere in the country the state of Indiana, and surrounding states, have had several instances of this type of fraud coming to light.
One of the most recent cases of self-directed IRA fraud reported in Indiana is the case of Randell Morrison, which has been reported extensively in the Fort Wayne, Indiana Journal Gazette. On November 10, 2011, Mr. Morrison was sentenced to six years in prison, followed by a year of home detention and then one year of probation for bilking 15 investors in Indiana, mainly in the Allen County area, out of $1.4 million.
Mr. Morrison was a businessman in the community, and used his personal associations with fraud victims, including being a friend of the family, and attending country clubs, churches and social clubs with them, to gain their trust over several years. He then convinced these investors to roll their more traditional IRAs and life insurance proceeds into a self-directed IRA custodial company, called Equity Trust, with which he was associated. His victims thought they were investing their money in conservative and traditional investments, but instead once he gained control of the money he used it for his own personal use and for his businesses.
The Indiana Secretary of State, Charlie White, said, “Randell Morrison preyed on those who considered him a friend. He didn’t just gamble with their life savings, he squandered their life savings.” Many of the victims of this scheme were close to retirement age, and have now lost their entire retirement account and life savings. They have suffered not only financial losses, but also emotional and even physical distress because of the fraud perpetuated against them.
Another case in Indiana that is currently pending involves Jerry Smith and Jason Snelling, who are accused of conducting a long-running Ponzi scheme, defrauding investors in three states, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky, of over $4.5 million. Smith and Snelling were allegedly selling unregistered securities, and neither was licensed to sell them.
In this case the accusation is that investors were convinced and encouraged to roll over their traditional IRA accounts into self-directed IRAs at a trust company. Then, Smith and Snelling allegedly took the funds from the accounts and used them for their own personal use. The investors had no idea their money was no longer available, since they still received regular statements from the trust company, and even were billed fees on the accounts.
Smith and Snelling are charged with over 50 counts of violations of the Indiana Uniform Securities Act, and charges are pending in both Franklin County and Dearborn County, Indiana.
See Also: Am I a Victim of Self-Directed IRA?
If you believe you have been taken advantage of, contact us right away. We can help you know if you have a legitimate case.
[Sources: SEC office of Investor Education and Advocacy, Investor Alert: Self-
Directed IRAs and the Risk of Fraud, found at www.investor.gov; Indiana Secretary
of State Announces Guilty Plea and Sentencing in Retirement Scam dated 11/10/
11; Indiana Securities Fraud Case Highlights Risks of Self-Directed IRAs, from the
wallstreetfraudblog.com; and Self-Directed IRAs’ pitfalls highlighted in fraud case,
written by Rebecca S. Green, in The Journal Gazette]