Covid19 isn’t the only problem seniors face. Investment fraud targeting our aging population has become so common, that the Justice Department launched its largest elder fraud sweep campaign last year. Who was on the list of bad guys? A spiritual leader to Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush.
Dastardly Duo: A Pastor and a Financial Advisor
The Justice Department recently uncovered a $3.5 million investment scheme in Louisiana and Texas. Senior Pastor Kirbyjon Caldwell of Houston’s Windsor Village United Methodist Church pled guilty last month to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. His partner in crime, Gregory Alan Smith, a financial planner from Shreveport, pled guilty in July 2019. “These defendants used their positions as religious leaders and investment advisors to defraud Louisiana residents—many of whom are elderly and retired,” stated U.S. Attorney Joseph. DOJ Press Release for Caldwell. Caldwell and Smith are just two more examples of trusted members of the community stealing from innocent investors.
Chinese Bond Scheme
Smith and Caldwell were selling an investment in pre-1949 Chinese bonds they claimed were worth three to fifteen times the value of the investments. In fact, the current Chinese government doesn’t recognize the bonds, and therefore they are worthless. Smith and Caldwell were able to pry $3.5 million from investors during 2013 and 2014 who wired funds into bank accounts under Caldwell’s control. DOJ Press Release for Smith
Financing a Lifestyle
If the investment was worthless, where did the millions go? Unfortunately, this story isn’t new. Both Smith and Caldwell used other peoples’ nest eggs to pay down loans and “support their lifestyle.” Smith even purchased two new luxury SUVs and put a down payment on a vacation property. DOJ Press Release for Caldwell
Before sending your hard-earned money to anyone, stop. Seek advice from an independent advisor, such as a commercial litigation attorney, or even an oil and gas fraud litigation lawyer. Smart, successful investors can easily make mistakes, and lawyers routinely review documents and relationships from both legitimate and illegitimate deals.
We hope all your investments are profitable. But if you find yourself searching for an experienced oil and gas fraud or commercial litigation lawyer, we are here to help.