LOS ANGELES (CN) - Actress Trish Van Devere claims a Bank of America investment adviser "maliciously targeted" her due to her "lack of understanding of investment" and cost her $3 million. Van Devere, 69, says Banc of America Investment Services committed financial elder abuse by putting virtually all of her money into risky investments, rather than the 10 percent she authorized, and did it "to generate increased fees and commissions."
Van Devere, the widow of actor George C. Scott, says she and her husband "were longtime customers of B of A." She adds that throughout their careers, neither of them "ever held anything more than a checking account with B of A." Her husband died in 1999.
Van Devere says she went to the Bank of America's Malibu branch in December 2004 to "make a significant deposit," and "the teller adviser [her] to take her intended deposit to a financial adviser located within the bank. This financial adviser of B of A Investment, which is, and was, a completely different entity than B of A. This fact was never disclosed to Ms. Scott. Plaintiff is informed and believes this intentional and willful omission was part of a scheme, conspiracy and plan to trick B of A customers into investing with B of A Investments under the guise that it is the same entity."
She claims that Charles Grant, the third defendant, "willfully, intentionally and maliciously targeted" her because of her lack of financial sophistication. She says she told him "from the beginning of her relationship with B of A Investment ... that her investment objectives were 'conservative' and she was only interested in safe and conservative investments with little to no risk." She added that "she was interested in preserving her principal to pass on to her son when she dies rather than engage in risky investment."
She claims that in May 2006, Grant "encouraged and persuaded" her to put 10 percent of her money into "moderate to high risk investments." By early 2007, she says, "the remaining 90 percent of [her] investment portfolio began to change from conservative investments to those of high risk." She says she never authorized that, "and it was in direct contravention with her stated investment objectives."
She says she found her monthly statements "virtually impossible to understand, and according to Grant, incomplete."
She claims that when she asked Grant in March 2007 why the value of her portfolio was less than what she had started with, he told her that "the monthly statements did not accurately reflect the status of her portfolio because her funds were in multiple accounts."
She said she "tried, but could never verify that what defendants told her was true," but that she trusted the bank because she had banked with it for decades.
In a single month, she says - September 2008 - her portfolio lost $710,388. It lost another $611,123 in October, and by February 2009 had lost $2 million.
She says Grant and B of A Investments invested her money that way "to generate increased fees and commissions to both Grant and to B of A Investment," and that if they had done what she asked them, she "would not have experienced these dramatic losses."
She says her total losses exceed $3 million. She seeks punitive damages for financial elder abuse, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, negligent misrepresentation and other charges.
She is represented in Superior Court by Alton Burkhalter with Burkhalter, Kessler, Goodman & George.
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