Insurance Broker Sentenced To Prison For Defrauding Seniors Out Of Annuity Funds
Williamsburg’s William Lowder Sentenced to 60 Months in Prison for Wire Fraud and Tax Charges
GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN – William Edward Lowder, age 58, of Williamsburg, Michigan, was sentenced today to serve 60 months in prison for defrauding several clients, many who were elderly, out of significant investment funds as part of a wire fraud scheme that he committed while he operated Lowder Insurance. U.S. Attorney Miles was joined in the announcement by Special Agent in Charge Erick Martinez, IRS Criminal Investigation, Special Agent in Charge Robert D. Foley III of the FBI, and Sheriff Thomas Bensley of the Grand Traverse Sheriff’s Office. U.S. District Judge Robert Holmes Bell sentenced Lowder and included a 36-month concurrent sentence on a separate charge of filing a false tax return in 2008. In handing down the sentence, the court emphasized the significant duration of Lowder’s fraud and his repeated failure to re-pay any of his victims. As part of his sentence, Lowder was ordered to pay restitution of $1,567,908.00, and to complete 300 hours of community service after serving his sentence of imprisonment.
Lowder was a licensed insurance agent and annuities producer. Beginning in 2001, Lowder began defrauding several of his elderly clients by convincing them to liquidate existing annuity investments under the promise that the proceeds would be reinvested in annuities earning higher rates of return. After the clients liquidated their annuities, Lowder convinced them to provide the proceeds directly to him for reinvestment. Instead of reinvesting the proceeds, Lowder deposited the proceeds into his own bank account. To conceal his fraud, Lowder provided these clients with false statements of account.
“Vigorous prosecution of professionals who commit financial crimes remains one of the top priorities of this Office,” said U.S. Attorney Miles. “This case is especially troubling given that Mr. Lowder stole significant amounts of money from elderly clients who, like most citizens, rely upon their limited investments to provide for their financial security.” FBI Special Agent in Charge Foley agreed, stating “those who target elderly victims, many of whom live on a fixed income, rob them of their hard-earned savings and their security. The FBI is committed to stopping predatory scams against seniors.”
Between 2001 and 2009, Lowder stole in excess of one million dollars from his clients, which he used to fund his own comfortable lifestyle. Lowder admitted that he did not claim the amounts stolen from his clients as income on his U.S. individual income tax returns from 2006 to 2009, despite knowing that he had an obligation to do so.
“The victims of Lowder’s scheme worked hard for their retirement and he stole their hard earned savings,” said Erick Martinez. “IRS Criminal Investigation is committed to pursuing those who perpetrate these crimes.”
The investigation and prosecution of this case was conducted by the Grand Traverse County Sheriff’s Office, the IRS and the FBI, who were assisted by the Michigan Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ron Stella.