Westminster Investment Advisor Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison for Scheme to Steal Almost $2 Million of Clients’ Money
Defendant Convinced Victims to Give Him Over $1.9 Million from Retirement Savings, Lines of Credit and Refinanced Mortgages in the False Promise of Receiving Higher Investment Returns
Baltimore, Maryland – U.S. District Judge George L. Russell III sentenced Jasper Buck, age 60, formerly of Westminster, Maryland and elsewhere including Sanford and Lake Mary, Florida, today to 10 years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for mail fraud arising from an investment fraud scheme in which Buck stole more than $1.96 million from clients. Judge Russell also entered an order requiring Buck to forfeit $1,961,364, the amount Buck obtained from his victims, and to pay $1,258,266.98 in restitution to the victims.
The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein and Special Agent in Charge Kevin Perkins of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
According to his plea agreement, Buck worked for mortgage companies, but held himself out to investors as an experienced investment advisor. Buck admitted that from October 2006 through at least December 2014, he told his victims that he was a representative of Portfolio Financial Group (PFG). Buck told the victims that PFG would loan money provided by the victims to borrowers who needed funds quickly or who were unable to obtain traditional bank loans and were therefore willing to pay a higher interest rate on the loans. In fact, there were no such borrowers, and Buck used the victims’ money for his own personal use or to further his fraud scheme.
Buck told his victims that there were other owners and employees of PFG. However, bank accounts for PFG listed Buck as a signatory, and PFG’s addresses were listed as either Buck’s personal residence or shipping and packaging stores such as UPS.
Buck convinced some victims to invest all or a portion of their retirement savings, often by persuading the victims to take loans out of their IRA or 401(k), or to refinance their home mortgages and use lines of credit, in order to invest the proceeds with Buck through PFG. Buck promised the victims that they would receive a monthly return on their investments greater than the victims’ monthly loan payments. In addition, he convinced some victims to move their retirement savings into an account with a self-directed IRA custodian for the purpose of then having those funds transferred to him. Rather than investing the money turned over to him, Buck used some of the money on himself, as well as to pay other victims in order to convince those victims that their investments were earning the promised returns.
To conceal the scheme, Buck issued payments to some victims, using funds received from other victims, to convince them that their investments were earning the expected returns. Buck made telephone calls and sent text messages and emails to victims making false statements regarding purported investments, to lull the victims into believing that their loan principal was safe and that their purported investments were sound.
Beginning in January 2014 when Buck had exhausted all of the victims’ funds in his PFG account and could no longer make any payments to the victims, he falsely represented that: there was no issue with PFG financially; PFG was updating software, or was slowed by new federal regulations, or was being sold to another company and no assets could be released until the sale was complete; victim money was in PFG’s possession, but Buck could not physically access it; or that Buck was pursuing legal action against PFG.
As a result of the scheme, Buck obtained at least $1,961,364 from more than 10 victims.
Today’s announcement is part of efforts underway by President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF) which was created in November 2009 to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Since the inception of FFETF in November 2009, the Justice Department has filed more than 12,841 financial fraud cases against nearly 18,737 defendants including nearly 3,500 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, visit www.stopfraud.gov.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the FBI for its work in the investigation and thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean Delaney, who prosecuted the case.