Ex-Detroit mayor Kilpatrick released from state prison – what next?

August 6, 2011

Still facing a host of federal charges – Southlake, Texas resident and former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick walked out of prison a free man after serving just over 14 months of a 5-year sentence at a state facility in Jackson, Michigan.

Kilpatrick had been serving time for violating probation related to a 2008 case against him. He is to check in with a Texas parole officer on his arrival as he is required to serve two years of parole.

As you might remember , Kilpatrick pleaded guilty in September 2008 to two felony counts of obstruction of justice stemming from his efforts to cover up an extramarital affair.  Following his plea, he spent more than three months in jail before being released in February 2009 on five years of probation.  However, in May 25, 2010, Wayne County Judge David Groner sentenced Kilpatrick to five years in prison for failing to report assets that could be used to pay the restitution, a violation of his probation.

Kilpatrick will be subject to usual restrictions for parolees, plus an order to pay back what his lawyer called $860,000 in restitution.

YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOME


Buusiness Ethics and Fraud Prevention Speaker Chuck Gallagher addresses FBI Conference

July 11, 2011

CHOICES: Negative Consequences – Positive Results

Chuck Gallagher Shares the Impact of Choices

at a Time when Ethical Choices seem to be missing from Business Culture

 CHARLOTTE, NC.  July 7, 2011.  From Prison to Promise, Chuck Gallagher’s presentation:  CHOICES: Negative Consequences – Positive Results –  exposes the power of choice and the negative consequences or positive results that can follow.   Selected to present to the 2011 FBI CPA Conference in Denver, Colorado, this annual FBI conference generally focuses on economic and other white-collar crimes.  Recognizing the importance of ethics and their practical application, Gallagher, as a speaker, is a natural fit for this national conference as he shares from experience how a life can change and the course of history can be altered by one unethical choice. In today’s environment, with so many lives turned “topsy turvy,” CHOICES  – provides a meaningful and practical framework for understanding how an otherwise ethical person can make unethical and potentially illegal choices.  CHOICES –  exposes the impact of unethical choices and the power that ethical choices can have.  As a business ethics and fraud prevention speaker, Gallagher’s presentations provides a foundation for business ethics training that goes beyond case studies and focuses on real life issues.

Chuck Gallagher, author of the new book Second Chances, has lived through it and he has come out a better man, husband, and father.  As a nationally recognized CPA, Gallagher lost it all when he made unethical choices by creating a Ponzi scheme and defrauding his clients and it all began with one bad decision.  He chronicles his fall from a wonderful life of success into the inside of a prison cell and how he managed to take the steps to rebuild his life to one full of meaning, purpose, and promise.

Shortly before his sixth month in prison, Gallagher asked himself, “Where from here?” This ultimately becomes his personal call to action upon which this book is premised. Gallagher states, “You may make a mistake, but YOU ARE NOT A MISTAKE.” So what’s next? What do you do next? How will you put one foot in front of the other to manifest the power over the choices you make now and in the future?

Gallagher’s presentations offer nuts and bolts information relevant to anyone from Main St. to Wall St. It packs hard-hitting, no-nonsense tools that the audience member can actually manifest into the power of ‘choice intelligence’. Through his transparent heart felt presentations, Gallagher says to the his audience, “Take what I’ve learned and apply it in your life and you will transform your destiny.  Explore every God-given opportunity and, in the process, you’ll develop a higher level of consciousness through better choices and a higher purpose. Honor your life, make wise choices, you will make a difference in your own life, the lives of others, and in society.”

Today, Gallagher is COO of a national company and speaks internationally on business ethics – choices and consequences. Chuck openly and candidly shares the lessons his roller coaster ride in life has taught him.  Described as “creative..,” “insightful…,” “captivating…,” and a person that “connects the dots” between behavior, choices, and success, Chuck Gallagher provides his clients, readers, and audiences with what they need to turn concepts into actions and actions into results

Chuck’s presentations drive home the very real issues involved in businesses today.  One unethical errant choice and the media fallout can have an immediate impact on business results.  For information about Gallagher’s ethics presentation contact Chuck at chuck@chuckgallagher.com ,call him at 828.244.1400 or visit his website:  http://chuckgallagher.com.


John Wiley Price – Innocent till proven Guilty or a Crook whose been nabbed by the FBI? Is there a Sprint to Judgment by the Media?

July 4, 2011

So far no one has been accused of any crimes!  You couldn’t tell it however from the media hype which most certainly will have racial overtones in this Dallas story.  So…some may ask why deal with it here – is this an ethics issue?  Good question and yes, but not perhaps for the reasons you might think.  The question I have relate to the ethics of sensationalism when no one has been accused of anything…at least not yet.

Not one to shy away from controversy…John Wiley Price will take on a fight and tell it like he sees it.  Example…in the following video Price says, “All of you are white; go to hell.”  Guess there’s a bit of a discriminatory feeling on his part.

But Mr. Price’s ethnic inclinations and hateful words are not what is driving the media today.  According to a report by Brett Shipp, “…at least six federal agents made their way inside the Millenium 2000 Gallery, where they stayed most of the day searching for records, taking photographs and looking for evidence of a crime.”  Shipp’s entire report can be seen here.

His report goes on to say:

Over the past four years, Price has used his campaign funds to purchase $46,000 in gifts and services from Manning.

Among the gifts was a $2,150 Kwanzaa gift for indicted former Constable Jaime Cortes, a $1,200 gift for mega-church pastor Ricky Rush and $2,525 in gifts for an unnamed constituents.

Among the services were campaign vehicle repairs, one of which was for $300 and another for $700 and $1,800 for vehicle wrap art.

The FBI won’t say exactly what they are looking for in Manning’s store and there is no indication that such gifts were improper.

WHAT’S ALL THE FUSS ABOUT?

With all that said and no charges filed…what’s all the fuss about?  I mean from my vantage point it seems much ado about nothing.  But, the buzz of FBI officers looking is enough to create attention…just ask Patrick Williams the author of another story on Mr. Price.

Entitled: John Wiley Price: Give the Devil His Due – Williams states:

Expect a lot of quote-trolling, thumbsucking and rumor-mongering in the weeks ahead, as hungry reporters scramble for crumbs of hard information. Nature abhors vacuums, and the 24-hour blogosphere hates them too. And since FBI agents aren’t the chattiest bunch—the local field office has a Tumblr called “We’re Not Saying Shit”—it’s going to be speculation city for a while. Did Price’s collection of questionably attained vintage cars stir the feds? Was it KwanzaaFest, Price’s charity event? What about the inland port, that transport hub Price attempted to jack? WFAA reported that Price has bought a lot of real estate lately. Ah-ha! What sort of person buys cheap real estate in a down market?

QUESTION:  Is there a Sprint to Judgment by the media in this case much like the in the Strauss-Kahn case or is there truly a smoking gun behind the actions of the FBI?

YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOME!


National Prearranged Services Officials bring Black Eye to Funeral Industry – Looks like Sutton, Cassity and others have dug themselves a Grave!

November 24, 2010

Looks like Randall K. Sutton, Sharon Nekol Province, Doug Cassity, Brent Douglas Cassity, Howard A. Wittner, and David R. Wulf, may have two graves in this lifetime – one that will naturally occur at the end of life and the other that they dug for themselves now.  Facing up to 30 years in prison – it’s likely that many named above (if convicted) will spend their last days in federal prison just like Bernie Madoff.

Not that this is any great surprise if you work in the Funeral Profession, but this week the United States Attorney’s Office announced the indictments of six controlling officials of National Prearranged Services, Inc., in a 50-count indictment charging wire, bank, mail, and insurance fraud; money laundering; and multiple conspiracy charges involving the sale of pre-paid funeral services.

Sadly, this brings a “black eye” and causes serious distrust in an industry that provides services to individuals and their families at times when trust is needed the most.  Having worked in this profession for the greater part of my adult life, I know the value that prearranging brings – not only emotionally, but financially as well…and for folks to abuse that trust is – well in a word – criminal.

So how big is this disaster?  According to the indictment, after taking into account insurance and trust assets expected to be available to pay for future funeral services, and merchandise under prearranged funeral contracts sold by National Prearranged Services, Inc., (NPS), the loss to purchasers, funeral homes, and state insurance guarantee associations will range from $450,000,000 to $600,000,000.

As a business ethics speaker and industry professional, I have interviewed several of the firms affected.  This financial fraud and scam will have significant, if not devastating consequences related to the ability of many smaller firms to survive or continue to provide the type of service that they wish to provide.

In an FBI news release the following is stated:  According to the indictment, individuals who purchased a prearranged funeral contract from NPS, signed contracts which set forth the terms of that contract. The total price for the funeral services and merchandise was agreed upon, and would remain constant regardless of when the funeral services and merchandise would be needed. The purchaser could pay the agreed upon price either in full, or by periodic installments. NPS agreed to arrange for the funeral with the funeral home designated in the agreement upon the death of the person for whom the contract was purchased. In order to secure the performance of the prearranged funeral contract, a third party received the deposited funds. In Missouri, the purchaser and NPS agreed that the payments made under the contract after the initial 20 percent were to be deposited into a trust with a financial institution, such as a bank, as trustee. The seller of a contract was permitted to retain for its own use, the initial 20 percent deposited by the purchaser. In other states, such as Ohio, Illinois, and Tennessee, the purchaser and NPS agreed that the purchaser would apply for a life insurance policy which would fund the prearranged funeral contract when the funeral services were needed. Beginning in 1983, NPS entered into agreements with several financial institution to act as trustees of the various trusts which were established to hold the funds paid by the purchasers located in Missouri.

The indictment alleges that instead of making the required deposits into trust or forwarding the insurance premiums as paid, NPS obtained insurance in a manner that allowed it to retain money received from purchasers that should have been deposited into trust or paid as a premium to an insurance company. Since NPS and the insurance companies from whom policies were obtained were controlled by the defendants, NPS was able to pay substantially less than the amounts which should have either been deposited into the trusts or to the insurance companies.

The NPS fraud may have started with good intentions, but quickly became nothing more than an intentional fraud according to a former NPS representative whose identity will remain confidential.

According the indictment, NPS borrowed large amounts of the cash surrender values of the insurance policies. NPS had no right to borrow the cash surrender values of these policies. These loans reduced the death benefits which would be available to pay for funeral services after the deaths of the purchasers. Additionally, the indictment alleges that the defendants concealed this practice from insurance regulators. In some instances, the defendants used money obtained from new purchasers to pay premiums of insurance policies on the lives of previous purchasers and also to reimburse funeral homes for the cost of funeral services for the earlier purchasers.

While the indictment states that the defendant removed large amounts of money from prearranged funeral trusts established by NPS, my source tells me that Brent Cassity along with his father Doug Cassity enjoyed the benefits of ill gotten money from NPS.  I was told that NPS maintained several limos with a driver available 24/7.  The limo was used (according to my source) to transport NPS officials (insiders) to pick up clients and/or provide transportation for personal vacation type trips, etc.  This money was allegedly used to enable Doug Cassity to purchase residential real estate, to finance business projects for affiliated companies, to purchase a New York insurance company, Professional Liability Insurance Company of America (PLICA), and to pay personal expenses of Doug Cassity and his family.

Finally, count 49 charges Doug Cassity with insurance fraud for his participation in the insurance business, after being previously convicted of a felony, which prohibits him from engaging in the insurance business. Count 50 charges Randall Sutton, Brent Cassity, and Howard Wittner with permitting Doug Cassity to engage in the insurance business.

Sources say that NPS used very aggressive tactics to sell their services and fund their need for cash.  By hiring attractive young women, (insiders called them “Barbies”), NPS would play on funeral directors emotions and financial needs by promising aggressive growth rates, generous trips and other incentives.

The quickest way to spot a fraud is to recognize that if it falls outside of industry norm and sounds too good to be true – it likely is – an many times is a clear indication that a scam or fraud is in play.

Examples of how the fraud took place are featured in an article in the “White Collar Crime News Blog” shown in full here with excerpts to follow:

For example, at the time they purchased prearranged funeral services, many customers completed applications for life insurance policies indicating they were making payment in full for insurance policies that would fund their funerals. Employees at National Prearranged Services, with the knowledge and under the direction of Sutton, simply whited-out the indications that payments had been made in full and altered the documents to make it appear as though the customers had made partial payments. The altered documents were forwarded to life insurance companies such as Lincoln Memorial Life, who adopted the policies and assumed the obligation to pay a lump sum at the time of the customer’s death. National Prearranged Services, meanwhile, diverted the difference between the true full payments and the falsified partial payments from the customer’s insurance policy, thus retaining the vast majority of the customer’s lump-sum payment while transferring the obligation of future pay.

As another example, National Prearranged Services’ employees used white-out or cross-outs to change the names of beneficiaries on insurance applications in order to extract money. Customers completed applications for life insurance policies naming themselves or their funeral homes as a beneficiary. With Sutton’s knowledge, employees at National Prearranged Services simply whited-out or crossed-out other beneficiaries named in the applications and made National Prearranged Services the sole beneficiary. Once National Prearranged Services was listed as the sole beneficiary on policies, it was able to extract money from customers’ policies in at least two separate ways:

First, customers’ insurance policies were pledged as collateral for loans to National Prearranged Services without the customers’ knowledge. Typically, the loans were made by insurance companies within the same family of corporate entities, such as Lincoln Memorial Life, allowing Sutton and others to extract funds from these insurance entities under false premises. In total, as alleged in the indictment, National Prearranged Services received in excess of $65 million from such policy loans. Often, the proceeds of these policy loans were immediately turned around and used to pay outstanding premiums due from other customers.

Second, once it had altered applications to name itself as sole beneficiary, National Prearranged Services then converted customers’ whole life insurance policies to monthly renewable term polices, extracting from the insurance company the difference between the cash surrender value of the whole life policy and the first monthly premium of the renewable term policy. By doing so, National Prearranged Services extracted more than $40 million from the customers’ policies at Lincoln Memorial Life without their knowledge.

In addition to the fraud charges, upon a finding of guilt, the defendants will be subject to a forfeiture allegation, which will require them to forfeit to the government all money derived from their illegal activity.

Indicted:

Randall K. Sutton, 65, Chesterfield, MO;
Sharon Nekol Province, 66, Ballwin, MO;
Doug Cassity, 64, Clayton, MO;
Brent Douglas Cassity, 43, Clayton, MO;
Howard A. Wittner, 73, Chesterfield, MO; and
David R. Wulf, 58, St. Louis County.

If convicted, the maximum penalty ranges for each of these charges range from five to 30 years in prison and/or from $250,000 to $1,000,000.

As is always the case, charges set forth in an indictment are merely accusations and do not constitute proof of guilt. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Today NPS policies are in the hands of a Receiver and subject to limited payout of the face amount of the policy.

IF YOU HAVE DIRECT KNOWLEDGE OF THE NPS SCAM – YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOME.


Fair Finance – Seems that beneath the surface it was anything but FAIR!

May 18, 2010

Fair Finance.  When I first heard that name I was confused.  I thought it might be a non-profit organization – left leaning perhaps – that fought for or advocated “fair finance” for the underprivileged.  Man…isn’t if funny what’s in a name.  Was I sure wrong!

Below is an article written by By Jim Mackinnon – Beacon Journal business writer.  Turns out Fair Finance was nothing more than massive Ponzi scheme. Read the great article by Mr. Mackinnon and you’ll get a clearer picture of what “Fair Finance” really was all about.

The court-appointed trustee for Fair Finance Co. has his eyes on lots of fancy cars and artwork that he believes were purchased with money from the under-investigation Akron finance and loan business.

There are three Bentleys, an antique Duesenberg, Mercedes and Jaguar cars, even a Lamborghini. The possible value is in the millions — same thing for the art, primarily paintings purchased by Fair Finance co-owner Timothy Durham, said the trustee, Cleveland attorney Brian Bash.

Bash on Tuesday said he is looking into the sale of more than $1 million in antique and exotic cars by an affiliated company in Indiana, Diamond Investments LLC, as he works to preserve assets for the bankrupt Akron business.

Bash said he is placing liens on perhaps as many as 100 vehicles listed under Diamond, which does business as Diamond Auto Sales. The business is owned by Durham.

”These are pretty fancy cars,” Bash said. Most of the vehicles are in storage, while the Duesenberg and three Bentleys were among vehicles sold recently in Indiana, he said. The vehicles were not ”on the books” of Fair Finance, he said.

Bash talked about the cars and artwork during a monthly status report in federal bankruptcy court in downtown Akron.

”Those are unique assets,” said Marilyn Shea-Stonum, chief judge of U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Ohio, who is overseeing the Chapter 7 liquidation process.

Of the more than $1 million from the car sale proceeds, ”it looks like a number of law firms were paid over $908,000,” Bash said. ”We’re going to be investigating that.”

Bash gave his report over a telephone conference call in open court; just six Fair Finance certificate holders attended. Bash’s monthly update took place less than a week before he will hold a creditors meeting at 1 p.m. Monday at Akron City Centre Hotel, 20 W. Mill St. in downtown Akron. Bash booked the hotel’s Salon A ballroom because he said he anticipates a large turnout.

More than 5,300 people and organizations that include churches bought investment certificates totaling about $200 million from Fair Finance, a small investment and loan company founded decades ago in Akron. The Fair family sold it to Durham and Jim Cochran, two Indiana-based businessmen, in 2002. Most of the certificate holders are in the greater Akron area.

The FBI in late November raided Fair Finance and a related business in Indiana, with court records showing investigators suspected the business was being operated as a Ponzi scheme. Then some investors earlier this year forced Fair Finance into bankruptcy as means to recover assets. The investment certificates, which promised to pay high interest rates, were not government insured.

Bash said he and the team he has assembled continue to look for Fair Finance assets.

Besides the cars, Bash told Shea-Stonum that he is in discussions to have ”a number of pieces of artwork” turned over to him.

Afterward, Bash said Durham had estimated the value of his art collection in the millions of dollars.

The pieces that he does have are ”secured, stored and insured” but he wants the entire collection, Bash said.

”I don’t even have half of it,” he said. ”I’m hopeful they will start cooperating more.”

There also might be as much as $5 million in Fair Finance equity in accounts overseen by two firms, Fortress Investment Group LLC and Duvera Financial, that did business with Fair Finance, Bash said. He said he has asked for an accounting of the money and that the two firms said the information is in more than 80,000 pages of documents.

And in what would be a significant move in the bankruptcy proceeding, Bash said he also expects to shortly have all the assets of Fair Holdings, which is Fair Finance’s Ohio corporate parent, and those of DC Investments — the Indiana corporate parent — assigned over.

”My view right now is, I’ve heard them [Fair Holdings and DCI’s representatives] wanting to cooperate but I haven’t seen the actions follow the words,” Bash said.

The FBI is continuing to scan Fair Finance documents, Bash said. ”My accountant goes out to Indianapolis to review those records,” he said.

It does not look as if any former Fair Finance employees will testify or answer questions at Monday’s creditors’ meeting, Bash said.

”It’s my understanding none of the individuals are willing to testify because of the ongoing investigation by the FBI,” he said.

In addition, the Indianapolis law firm representing Fair Finance, Taft Stettinus & Hollister, told Bash in writing and the judge during the conference call that it intends to withdraw as Fair Finance’s counsel. The firm did not give a reason.

Shea-Stonum said investment certificate holders and other creditors who have questions about the case need to go online and review court documents. She said the bankruptcy court clerk’s office is not in a position to respond to questions about the case.

The judge also said certificate holders need to guard themselves from scam artists who claim that they can recover their money from Fair Finance. Scam artists have taken advantage of people in other cases, she said.

”It appears to me the certificate holders in this case have been the victims of what appears to be, well, I’m not going to characterize it. People have been parted from their money,” she said. ”I do not want to see this case become a hotbed for scam artists.”

Shea-Stonum asked Bash to use the trustee’s Fair Finance Web site to post information on how creditors can legitimately find ways to recover assets.

The trustee status report is available online at http://www.kccllc.net/fairfinance.

Here’s another link to Fair Finance articles.

One more time it seems that we see the reality behind the Ponzi scheme…fancy living, fast cars, a lifestyle that cannot be supported by a real business enterprise.  Sadly, what started out as a legitimate business enterprise that helped many, became a vehicle for fraud.  And while I have not been following this active investigation it appears that I sure should be…so look for more information to come.

OF COURSE, YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOME!


Another Ponzi Scheme – Nevin Shapiro – from the FBI website no less!

May 11, 2010

To make the FBI’s web site takes a lot.  But what is listed below in BLUE is directly from their site.  Once you finish reading…check out the comments.  It’s amazing how simple the fraud takes place and how easy it is for folks to get sucked into the PIT.

He was living the high life—taking up residence in a Miami Beach mansion worth more than $5 million, cruising around in a million-dollar yacht and his leased Mercedes-Benz, shelling out more than $400,000 for floor seats at Miami Heat basketball games, and donating thousands of dollars to the athletic program of a local university (the school was so appreciative it named a student athlete lounge after him).

But it all came crashing down on Florida businessman Nevin Shapiro last month, when he was charged with orchestrating a multi-million-dollar Ponzi scheme involving about 60 victims throughout the United States.


From January 2005 through November 2009, according to the criminal complaint filed in federal court in New Jersey (where one of his victims resides), Shapiro raised more than $880 million from his investors. These individuals thought they were investing in his wholesale grocery distribution business—Capitol Investments, a Florida corporation with offices in Miami Beach that Shapiro owned and ran as CEO.

In reality, there was no grocery distribution business. Shapiro allegedly used new investor money to fund principal and interest payments to existing investors—a textbook Ponzi scheme—while at the same time, taking tens of millions of dollars for his own use.

How did Shapiro convince his investors to give him their hard-earned money? According to the charges, he and others working for him showed potential investors fake documents that touted the profitability of his business, including:

  • Financial statements claiming that the business generated millions of dollars in annual sales;
  • Shapiro’s personal and business tax returns (also fraudulent);
  • Phony invoices revealing transactions that Shapiro’s business had supposedly entered into with other businesses; and
  • Promissory notes reflecting the amount of the victims’ investment, along with a schedule for a payment of interest (at anywhere from 10 to 26 percent on an annual basis) and the return of their principal.

The scheme eventually went the way of most Ponzi schemes—collapsing in on itself when it got too big to maintain financially. The criminal complaint alleges that Shapiro defrauded investors out of at least $80 million.

This particular case was brought in connection with the recently-established Financial Fraud Task Force, led by the Department of Justice, which investigates and prosecutes major financial crimes. And the case was definitely a multi-agency effort—in addition to the FBI, it was worked by the IRS Criminal Investigative Division and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

So how can you avoid being victimized by a Ponzi scheme? A few tips:

  • Be careful of any investment opportunity that makes exaggerated earnings claims.
  • Exercise due diligence in selecting investments and the people with whom you invest—in other words, do your homework!
  • Consult an unbiased third party, like an unconnected broker or licensed financial advisor, before investing.

If you think you have already been conned in a Ponzi scheme—or are suspicious about a pending investment—contact your local FBI field office or local authorities.

COMMENTS:

There are three components of most frauds from the perspective of the VICTIMS:  (1) Promise; (2) Illusion and (3) Trust.

Let’s look at what the FBI reported and see if we can find those components.  ILLUSION – according to the FBI, Shapiro created fake financial statements, fake personal and business tax returns and phony invoices.  He went to a lot of trouble to solidify the illusion that what he represented was real.  Some might question what might have happened if he had invested half that much time and effort into a real business instead of his phony scam?

Ah, but the hook that gets VICTIMS in – in the first place – is the PROMISE.  Here the promise was a return (plus principle) of anywhere between 10 to 26 percent.  I can’t speak to why…but in every case it seems clear that “investors” seem to gravitate to something that “others can’t have” – some call it greed.  I think, rather than greed, we have a psychological desire to be above average and if someone offers something that seems real that is “off limits” to the average guy…then we are more apt to bite.  Guess it’s DNA to want what we can’t or shouldn’t have…just think of the apple.  (Some readers will get that!)

Now, let’s be honest.  A PROMISE of a 26% return is not reasonable and ANY PROMISE of a guaranteed return should give us a moment to pause and investigate further!

The funny part about a Ponzi Scheme is that the ILLUSION that supports the PROMISE actually creates the TRUST needed to perpetuate the scheme.  More times than not, the “investors” VICTIMS actually are the ones that turn others on to the “scam” without having any knowledge that they are luring others into the trap!

The Ponzi scheme only collapses when the source of funding dries up.  Most of the time, the scheme gets so large and top heavy (the need for additional funding becomes so great) that it collapses on itself.

So…the FBI suggests the following which is worth repeating:

So how can you avoid being victimized by a Ponzi scheme? A few tips:

  • Be careful of any investment opportunity that makes exaggerated earnings claims.
  • Exercise due diligence in selecting investments and the people with whom you invest—in other words, do your homework!
  • Consult an unbiased third party, like an unconnected broker or licensed financial advisor, before investing.

BREAKING NEWS FOR NEVIN SHAPIROhttps://chuckgallagher.wordpress.com/2011/08/17/convicted-ponzi-fraudster-nevin-shapiro-provides-a-tsunami-of-evidence-against-the-university-of-miami-football-program/

YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOME!


Brion Gary Randall facing prison for Financial Crimes… Choices and Consequences: Comments by Business Ethics and Fraud Prevention Speaker Chuck Gallagher

May 10, 2010

A Plano, Texas, man, who has admitted running a fraudulent investment scheme from 2004 through July 2009, will enter his guilty plea before U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul D. Stickney on May 18, 2010, to felony offenses related to that crime, announced U.S. Attorney James T. Jacks of the Northern District of Texas. Brion Gary Randall, 48, has signed documents, filed with the Court, pleading guilty to an Information charging one count of mail fraud and one count of bank fraud. Each count carries a maximum statutory sentence of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

According to filed plea documents, Randall worked as an investment advisor from 2004 through July 2009. During part of that time, he operated, and owned in part, 2Randall Consulting Group, LLP and also owned part of Titan Home Theater, LLC, which designed and installed commercial and residential audio/visual systems. According to a complaint filed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission against Randall and 2Randall in August 2009, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) suspended and fined Randall for improperly exercising discretion in customer accounts without prior written permission. That case is currently pending.

From 2004 through July 2009, Randall raised more than $6 million from 30 investors through a scheme in which he caused persons to invest in a number of short-term loan participation programs, which in fact, did not exist. He used investors’ funds for his own benefit and not for purposes he represented.

For example, Randall represented that he was pooling money in accounts at Chase Bank and AllianceBernstein for investment in a variety of short-term loan participation programs. Randall represented that an investor’s money in 2Randall Consulting’s account at Alliance and Chase was held in a non-taxable escrow account and fully liquid, with the investor able to withdraw his money at any time. He represented that the 2Randall consulting account at AllianceBernstein had a balance ranging from $25 million to $29 million, and that he had also invested millions of dollars of his own money into the accounts.

In reality, however, the Chase Bank and AllianceBernstein accounts were nonexistent. To further the scheme, Randall created and distributed fraudulent documents to investors, including bogus Chase Bank and AllianceBernstein account statements. He also created bogus 2Randall Consulting accounting statements and portfolio summaries. In meetings with some investors, he would display a false and fictitious computer screen shot of either the Chase Bank or AllianceBernstein account which would show the investor’s money on deposit.

Randall also represented to investors that they could invest in short-term loan participations, usually lasting 45 to 90 days and returning a high rate of interest. He sold loan participation programs in 1) Small Business Administration (SBA) loans; 2) Titan Home Theater project completion loans; and 3) loans to acquire real estate in Galveston, Texas.

For the SBA loans, Randall falsely represented to investors that they could participate with 2Randall Consulting in a short-term loan to a local company seeking an SBA loan. Randall represented that the short-term loan would provide sufficient capital to enable the company to obtain the loan at a discounted rate, and once the SBA loan closed, the company would return to 2Randall Consulting and the participating investors the principal plus 10 percent. He represented that the companies receiving the loans were reputable local businesses, including 84 Lumber, General Packaging Corporation, PerotSystems Vent-A-Hood and Richardson Bike Mart, businesses where Randall’s father had an established relationship. Randall represented that participating in an SBA loan participation program was low risk and that an investor could only lose his money if the company declared bankruptcy during the 45-90 day term of the loan. Randall knew that no such SBA loan participation agreements existed.

With regard to the Titan Home Theater project completion loans, Randall represented that investors could participate in short-term loans to Titan enabling it to complete a number of commercial projects, and that upon completion of the projects, Titan would return the principal plus up to a 22% return. Randall falsely represented that Titan was a subcontractor on several commercial projects including projects at Southern Methodist University, the Bush Library and the Dallas Cowboys stadium.

Randall also represented to investors that they could participate in short-term loans enabling him to finalize the acquisition and sale of real estate in Galveston. Randall promised that on closing, he would return the investor’s principal plus a sizeable rate of interest.

As a further part of his fraud, Randall obtained loans from financial institutions by submitting forged signatures and false and fraudulent documents. The plea documents note that Randall obtained five loans, from Bank of America, Texas Capital Bank and Wells Fargo, that all defaulted, causing a total loss to these financial institutions of nearly $875,000.

COMMENTS:

The question that I often get asked in seminars I conduct is: How can someone with reasonable intelligence get caught up in such a scam?  Answer: They get caught up in the PIT.

“P” – PROMISE – The first step to falling into a scam (especially a financial scam) is the “promise”!

“I” – The second part of falling into the scam is the – ILLUSION!

“T” – In the PIT the third and last component is TRUST.

Combine the three components and you find victim investors falling into the “PIT” as I call it.  When some one promises a 22% return – that PROMISE in and of itself is a warning sign that something is amiss!  It almost makes no difference what else might take place, the unreasonable promise of a return is a clear indication that you might be a fraud victim.  Funny, however, it seems the more focused someone is on getting something that most people can’t have the greater likelihood they will fall prey to a scam artist.

Every choice has a consequence and in this case Randall will have a long time to think about his fraud and the impact it has and will have on his life and the lives of countless others.

If you’re a victim of Randall’s fraud, I’d appreciate your comments on what took place that got you hooked.  Perhaps your comments will help others avoid the consequences of the PIT!

YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOME!