Wonder what Jennifer Wilkov was thinking? Was she thinking about breaking free from American Express Financial Advisors, with whom she was employeed in the Advanced Advisor Group? Was she captivated by the money she needed to open Evolutionary Strategic Planning – the company she founded when she left American Express? Was it the need for money to promote her books – “The Loved Ones Kit, Dating Your Money, or Dating Your Money for Couples?”
What ever her thoughts, after pleading guilty to participating in a $1.6 million Real Estate Fraud scheme – my guess is, as she spends time in prison, she’ll have time to ponder what took her from a promising career to becoming a convicted felon and, likely, losing it all.
The Story: Carla Zimbalist, Beverly Hills, CA and Pam Chanla, Alhambra, CA were sole partners in CPM Holdings, Inc., PMC Interests, Inc., and Scott Avenue Development, Inc. Seems that these two found investors through Jennifer Wilkov – former financial advisor at American Express Financial Advisors. Through her position with American Express she solicited clients for Zimbalist and Chanla.
For her efforts Wilkov received more than $140,000 in commissions and consulting fees. I imagine at the time that the extra commission was welcome and helped to fund her needs as she pulled away from American Express to venture out on her own.
On the other hand, Zimbalist and Chanla used the funds fraudulently obtained to pay for personal expenses and civil judgments that had been entered against them for similar thefts from California victims. Seems they told investors that they would use the funds to purchase and renovate Southern California residential properties when, in fact, they never owned most of the properties in question.
The Outcome: Wilkov, Zimbalist and Chanla were charged by the Grand Jury with Scheme to defraud in the first degree, and multiple counts of securities fraud. Zimbalist and Chanla could receive up to 15 years in prison – while Wilkov faces 4 years.
Where From Here?
Well, having plead guilty, the likely outcome for all will be prison. As it appears that the charges were brought by the state, that would mean state prison … and for most that is worse than federal prison.
Wilkov most surely has lost her securities license, her certification as a financial advisor and her credibility – which would sell her books. Her life as she once knew it is over. I know, as I’ve been exactly where she is now and I can say from personal experience it is a humbling experience to be stripped of all that you’ve worked for – reduced to the reality of who you are. This experience will define her. The choice she now makes will have a profound impact on her for the rest of her life.
Every choice has a consequence. As a White Collar Crime Keynote Speaker, (www.chuckgallagher.com) I share the first hand experience of making bad choices. From successful tax partner in a CPA firm to inmate in federal prison, I know what Wilkov is facing now and in the future. Some call it “Club Fed” – speaking on the incarceration experience of white collar criminals. Let me state – it is no “Club” – it is fed…federal prison that is and it’s no fun.
However, the choices Wilkov makes today will create the outcomes she’ll experience in the future. Even though I am a convicted felon I still serve as a Senior VP of Sales and Marketing for a public company. At a low point in my life I was told something that has been profound: You may make a mistake; you are not a mistake. Since the lessons of incarceration I have founded a non-profit foundation called the Choices Foundation. Through that I speak to youth and young adults about the choices they make – I speak about the Truth About Consequences.
Perhaps Wilkov can find her truth and use the unpleasant experience she will no doubt face to help others in the future.
Business ethics speaker, Chuck Gallagher, signing off…