South Florida Elder Abuse Insurance and Annuity Fraud and Misrepresentation Attorney Russell L. Forkey, Esq.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently charged a self-described institutional trader in Colorado with defrauding elderly investors into making purported investments in government-secured bonds as he used their money to pay his mortgage.
The SEC alleges that Gary C. Snisky of Longmont, Colo., primarily targeted retired annuity holders by using insurance agents to sell interests in his company Arete LLC, which posed as a safe and more profitable alternative to an annuity. Investors were told their funds would be used to purchase government-backed agency bonds at a discount, and Snisky as an institutional trader would use the bonds to engage in overnight banking sweeps. However, Snisky did not purchase bonds or conduct any such trading, and he misappropriated approximately $2.8 million of investor funds to pay commissions to his salespeople and make personal mortgage payments.
In a parallel action, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado today announced criminal charges against Snisky.
According to the SEC’s complaint filed in federal court in Denver, Snisky raised at least $3.8 million from more than 40 investors in Colorado and several other states. Beginning in August 2011, Snisky recruited veteran insurance salespeople who could sell the Arete investment to their established client bases that owned annuities. The majority of investors in Arete used funds from IRAs or other retirement accounts.
The SEC alleges that Snisky described Arete as an “annuity-plus” investment in which, unlike typical annuities, investors could withdraw principal and earned interest with no penalty after 10 years while still enjoying annuity-like guaranteed annual returns of 6 to 7 percent. Snisky emphasized the safety of the investment, calling himself an institutional trader who could secure government-backed agency bonds at a discount and save middleman fees. Snisky’s sales pitch was so convincing that even one of his salespeople personally invested retirement funds in Arete.
The SEC alleges that Snisky created and provided all of the written documents that the hired salespeople used as offering materials to solicit investors. Snisky also showed salespeople fraudulent investor account statements purporting to show earnings from Arete’s investment activity. Following an initial influx of investors, Snisky organized at least two seminars where he met with investors and salespeople. He introduced himself as the institutional trader behind Arete’s success, and encouraged investors to spread the word. Snisky hand-delivered fraudulent account statements to investors attending the seminars to mislead them into believing their investments were performing as promised.
The SEC’s complaint against Snisky seeks a permanent injunction, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains plus prejudgment interest, and a financial penalty.
With extensive courtroom, arbitration and mediation experience and an in-depth understanding of insurance and securities law, our firm provides all of our clients with the personal service they deserve. Handling cases worth $25,000 or more, we represent clients throughout Florida and across the United States, as well as for foreign individuals that invested in U.S. banks or brokerage firms. Contact us to arrange your free initial consultation.
At the Fort Lauderdale Law Office of Russell L. Forkey, we represent clients throughout South and Central Florida, including Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Sunrise, Plantation, Coral Springs, Deerfield Beach, Pompano Beach, Delray, Boynton Beach, Hollywood, Lake Worth, Royal Palm Beach, Manalapan, Jupiter, Gulf Stream, Wellington, Fort Pierce, Stuart, Palm City, Jupiter, Miami, Orlando, Maitland, Winter Park, Altamonte Springs, Lake Mary, Heathrow, Melbourne, Palm Bay, Cocoa Beach, Vero Beach, Daytona Beach, Deland, New Smyrna Beach, Ormand Beach, Broward County, Palm Beach County, Dade County, Orange County, Seminole County, Martin County, Brevard County, Indian River County, Volusia County and Monroe County, Florida. The law office of Russell L. Forkey also represents South American, Canadian and other foreign residents that do business with U.S. financial institutions, investment advisors, brokerage and precious metal firms.