Jeffrey M. Knutsen, a financial advisor from Bellingham, Washington, was sentenced to 51 months in prison with three years of supervised release after accusations of wire fraud. Along with prison time, U.S. District Judge James L. Robart also ordered Knutsen to pay $251,892 in restitution to the clients from whom he embezzled money. Knutsen owned and operated his own firm, Bellwether Financial Services, which he told clients was switching to an online approach sometime after 2005. In 2005, FINRA barred him for allegedly converting $89,973.16 of client funds to his own use. Knutsen did not disclose to his clients that he had been barred from the securities industry. He continued to mislead investors by trading through online sites such as E*Trade and TD Ameritrade. Knutsen set up accounts in his clients' names and had complete control over the account and made sure each account would allow him check writing privileges. Over a period of almost eight years, without his clients' knowledge or consent, he wrote more than 200 checks on their accounts.
Jeffrey C. McClure, a former Wells Fargo advisor, has been barred by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) after being charged with stealing almost $89,000 from an elderly client. McClure allegedly deposited money into his personal account by using blank, unsigned checks provided by the client under the guise that McClure would use the checks to pay the client's bills. Wells Fargo repaid the stolen monies to the client.
Earlier this month, U.S. District Court Judge Gary Feinerman sentenced Oscar Overbey, Jr., to three and a half years in a federal prison. The charges against Overbey, a former Ameriprise advisor, stemmed from an alleged Ponzi scheme he created to pay off gambling debts and other personal expenses. Investigators believe that from 1996 through 2007, Overbey used his status as a financial advisor to embezzle about $4 million of his clients' money. This resulted in Overbey being barred from the financial industry in 2007 after he was terminated from Ameriprise in 2006. Ameriprise refunded all the clients who had lost money due to Overbey's actions. Overbey was also ordered to pay $3 million in restitution, which will reimburse Ameriprise. During the trial Overbey admitted that he met a lot of clients through his gambling and that, "The lines between my brokerage business and my gambling were often blurred." Once he completes his sentence, Overbey will then be placed on a three-year supervised probation, in which he will be prohibited from entering any casinos or participating in any gambling.
Earlier this year, after allegations of fraudulently spending ten thousand dollars with someone else's credit card, Dana Giacchetto was charged with fraud. Giacchetto has served as financial advisor to A-list celebrities such as Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio.