A scam artist that swindled senior citizens out of more than a million dollars was on the run until federal officials caught a lucky break that brought the man to justice.
He promised them a better return on their savings, but instead he stole the money they had counted on for retirement. There is a way to avoid getting trapped in a similar scam.
"We had two victims who had diagnoses of dementia or Alzheimer's, He knew this at the time he was trying to get them to invest and he still took their money," Dennis Cunningham, U.S. Postal Inspector said.
"He" is Steven Gwin and he stole over $1.2M from more than 50 senior citizens in an investment fraud scheme.
"He would invest them in an IRA that would get them a better return than they were getting from their established IRAs," Cunningham said.
"He would use bogus documentation, forged documentation, take out all of that money that they worked their lives for to basically live off of for 2 or 3 years," Cunningham said.
All for his own personal use, a Cadillac Escalade, big beautiful home and other living expenses.
As postal inspectors began tracking the case, Gwin fled to Guatemala. But they caught a break when Gwin tried to travel to Mexico City.
"On that flight was a law enforcement liaison from Mexico who looked at the flight manifest and saw that one of the names had an outstanding arrest warrant," Cunningham said.
The liaison contacted Mexican authorities.
"Mexico's policy on individuals flying into the country with active warrants-- they basically send them on a plane back to where they came from," Cunningham said.
Investigators caught yet another break.
"We got lucky that when Mr. Gwin was flying back to Guatemala from Mexico City he had a layover in Phoenix," Cunningham said.
U.S. Marshals were in Arizona to meet Gwin. He was quickly arrested and pled guilty. Inspectors say all investors need to do their due diligence.
"Sometimes it's just better to make money the old fashioned way… and use a low yielding product and avoid being scammed," Cunningham said.
Postal inspectors recommend contacting the Better Business Bureau, Federal Trade Commission or your state attorney general to see if there have been any complaints against the individual or company.
As for Gwin, he pled guilty to mail fraud and money laundering charges. He is serving a 9 year term in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered Gwin to pay more than $1M in restitution.
Wednesday, July 23 2014 10:03 PM EDT2014-07-24 02:03:59 GMT
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