“Because it was easy.”
That’s from the police report for William Lowder, age 58, who will be serving 60 months in prison for defrauding clients out of significant investment funds. The Williamsburg, MI, insurance broker was also ordered to pay restitution of $1,567,908 and complete 300 hours of community service for his crimes.
A licensed insurance agent and annuities producer, Lowder began defrauding senior clients in 2001 by convincing them to liquidate existing annuity investments and then direct the proceeds to him for reinvestment. Lowder invested the proceeds, alright – into his own bank account.
“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,” said U.S. Attorney Miles.
Indeed. And while the authorities are committed to stopping predatory scams against seniors, you can take the target off your back by looking out for these red flags:
- A financial adviser who asks you for a loan. Lowder reportedly asked one of his clients to lend him $3,000, which he did eventually repay – without interest.
- A financial adviser who asks you to withdraw your assets. Liquidation is not necessarily a bad thing, but beware when your adviser asks you to fork the cash over to him.
- A financial adviser who won’t give you a straight answer. Anyone responsible for handling your money should be completely transparent with you, and with the IRS.
Like Lowder, anyone can produce fraudulent documents. That’s why it’s important to go directly to the source and double-check that the money your accountant says you have is really there. And never get complacent – Lowder began a financial adviser relationship with one client in 1997 but didn’t start stealing from her until 2006.
Vigilance is the watchword – especially for seniors.