SEC Says Adviser Stole from Widows

     ATLANTA (CN) – A 36-year-old Georgia investment adviser stole $2 million from clients, most of it retirement savings or life insurance from dead spouses, the SEC claims in court.
     Blake B. Richards, of Buford, Ga., was a registered representative and investment adviser with LPL Financials, which fired him this month and is not a party to the case, according to the complaint.
     Richards “misappropriate approximately $2 million from at least six individuals,” the SEC says in the complaint. “At least two of these investors are elderly, and the majority of the apparently misappropriated funds constituted retirement and/or life insurance proceeds from deceased spouses.”
     Since 2008, instead of rolling over IRA accounts as his clients requested, Richards told them to write checks to “Blake Richards Investments,” or “BMO Investments,” then stole most of the money, the SEC says: “Richards, whose production at LPL Financial has been virtually nonexistent over the past few years, began siphoning off funds from clients, and converting them to his personal use.”
     For instance, Richards appears to have stolen more than $350,000 from one widow, $440,000 from an elderly widow, can’t account for most the $480,000 he apparently swiped from another widow, and lied to all of them all along the way, the SEC says in the complaint.
     He gave at least one client “a fictitious on what purported to be LPL letterhead,” and gave at least one a business card identifying himself as an Accredited Asset Management Specialist, which he is not, the SEC says.
     Lanier Wealth Management LLC, in Buford, “is a business apparently owned by Richards,” through which he conducted business, the complaint states.
     The SEC wants his assets frozen, disgorgement, penalties and an injunction.

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