Former Westlake Investment Advisor Sentenced to Nearly 22 Years in Prison for Operating Ponzi Scheme
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Ohio
Former Westlake Investment Advisor Raymond A. Erker, 52, of Avon, Ohio, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Dan Polster to nearly 22 years in prison, or 262 months, following his conviction at trial of stealing more than $9.3 million from clients in a Ponzi scheme. A restitution hearing concerning this matter was scheduled for December 9, 2022.
“Mr. Erker misled, cheated and conned over fifty victims, many of them elderly, into trusting him with their life savings and hard-earned retirement funds, all for guaranteed rates of return and low-risk investments that were fabricated,” said First Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle M. Baeppler. “Instead, Erker squandered the money he was entrusted with and caused financial ruin and pain for many. Now, thanks to the work of law enforcement, Mr. Erker must repay his debt to these victims and our community.”
“Be suspect of anyone who guarantees that an investment will perform a certain way, because all investments carry some degree of risk,” said Ohio Securities Commissioner Andrea Seidt. “Investors need to ask lots of questions and do extra research. Investors can call our Investor Protection Hotline at 877-683-7841 to find out if the person is licensed to sell securities and if the product is properly registered.”
According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, from January 2013 through July 2018, Erker devised a scheme that stole $9,366,976.37 from at least fifty-four investors.
As part of the scheme, Erker sold investments to clients that he misrepresented as annuities and senior secured notes with no risk of loss and with a guaranteed rate of return. Court documents state that Erker, without the approval or consent of investors, diverted funds to other entities that they controlled and their personal bank accounts.
Additionally, Erker failed to disclose to clients that he maintained ownership interests in companies receiving investments from the scheme.
To keep up with promised rates of return, Erker falsely represented that payments to previous investors were rates of return and interest when, in actuality, these payments were new investor funds, the defining characteristic of a Ponzi scheme.
To avoid detection, Erker set up office fronts in Delaware and Nevada, contracted with call centers and created false websites and account statements that purported to show investor account balances.
Erker was also convicted of making a false statement under oath. On October 9, 2019, while under oath in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Erker stated that he disclosed to investors that he owned the companies the investors gave him money to invest in, when in fact, Erker knew that statement to be false.
Co-defendants Kevin M. Krantz and Tara M. Brunst were previously sentenced for their roles in the scheme.
This investigation was conducted by the Ohio Department of Commerce Division of Securities, the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) and the Westlake Police Department. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brian McDonough and Kathryn Andrachik.
If you or someone you know is age 60 or older and has been a victim of financial fraud, help is standing by at the National Elder Fraud Hotline: 1-833-FRAUD-11 (1-833-372-8311). This U.S. Department of Justice hotline, managed by the Office for Victims of Crime, is staffed by experienced professionals who provide personalized support to callers by assessing the needs of the victim and identifying relevant next steps.
Case managers will identify appropriate reporting agencies, provide information to callers to assist them in reporting, connect callers directly with appropriate agencies, and provide resources and referrals on a case-by-case basis.
Reporting is the first step. Reporting can help authorities identify those who commit fraud and reporting certain financial losses due to fraud as soon as possible can increase the likelihood of recovering losses. The hotline is staffed seven days a week from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. eastern time. English, Spanish and other languages are available.
Updated August 2, 2022
Securities, Commodities, & Investment Fraud