The elder financial fraud allegations reportedly cost elderly investors over $1M of retirement savings
Once a prominent Methodist pastor in Houston, Texas, Kirbyjon Caldwell is now charged by the SEC with numerous counts of money laundering and wire fraud. The charges are directly related to a scheme Caldwell and his partner, Gregory Alan Smith – a self-proclaimed financial advisor who was also charged – allegedly used to defraud elderly investors by selling them an interest in defunct, pre-Revolutionary Chinese bonds.
It is alleged that in 2013 and 2014, Caldwell and Smith singled out vulnerable investors to invest in bonds that had no more value than being collectible memorabilia – promising instead that they were worth millions.
The SEC reports that a total of 29 mostly-elderly investors gave the pair at least $3.4 million, some even liquidating annuities for the opportunity to invest in this venture. Caldwell and Smith allegedly used the funds to pay for mortgages and luxury cars.
Misplaced faith and finances
While Caldwell was a Senior Pastor at Windsor Village United Methodist Church in Houston, Gregory Alan Smith was permanently barred from acting as a broker in 2012 by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). Over a nearly twenty-year career as a registered broker, Smith had eight customer disputes – three of which were settled – one FINRA regulatory action (his ban), and an employment separation after allegations. He most recently worked for New England Securities in Shreveport, LA from December 1999 until July 2010.
Investors in this scheme could have checked up on Smith’s standing with FINRA through BrokerCheck, a free online tool that reveals the background and experience of financial advisors, brokers, and firms.
“Our laws do not tolerate materially misleading statements to exploit vulnerable investors who, in this case, looked up to a prominent pastor,” said Eric I. Bustillo, Director of the SEC’s Miami Regional Office. “Caldwell took advantage of his victims, encouraging them to remain faithful even as he and Smith broke that faith, stealing from elderly investors in an outright fraud.”
Protecting yourself and others from elder financial fraud
As we age, extra diligence in understanding our investment options is critical. While “trusted advisors” such as clergy and financial advisors may seem to be above scrutiny, they may not always be ethical. Be sure to carefully research any potential investments and use resources like FINRA’s BrokerCheck to vet financial professionals.
If you or someone you know may already be a victim of elder financial fraud, there are potential options for recovering some or all of the financial losses. Silver Law Group attorneys are leaders in the field of securities arbitration and elder financial fraud. Our services are provided on a contingency-fee basis, which means we are only compensated if there is a recovery of funds.
Contact us for a complimentary consultation about your situation.