Westminster Investment Adviser Indicted for Theft of Client Money
BALTIMORE, MD—A federal grand jury indicted Jasper Buck, age 59, formerly of Westminster, Maryland and elsewhere including Sanford and Lake Mary, Florida, for mail fraud arising from an investment fraud scheme. The indictment was returned on January 21, 2015 and unsealed today upon the arrest of the defendant. An initial appearance is expected to be scheduled in federal court in the Middle District of Florida today.
The indictment was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein and Special Agent in Charge Stephen E. Vogt of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
According to the five count indictment, Buck worked for mortgage companies, but held himself out to investors as an experienced investment advisor through Portfolio Financial Group (PFG). The indictment alleges that from October 2006 through at least December 2014, Buck told his victims that PFG would loan money provided by the victims to borrowers who needed funds quickly or were unable to obtain traditional bank loans and were therefore willing to pay a higher interest rate on the loans. In fact, there were no such borrowers, and Buck used the victims’ money for his own personal use or to further his fraud scheme.
Buck told his victims that there were other owners and employees of PFG. However, bank accounts for PFG listed Buck as a signatory, and PFG’s addresses were listed as either Buck’s personal residence or shipping and packaging stores such as UPS.
Buck convinced some victims to refinance their home mortgages and use lines of credits in order to invest the proceeds with Buck through PFG. Buck is alleged to have promised the victims that they would receive a monthly return on their investments greater than the victims’ monthly loan payments. In addition, he convinced some victims to move their retirement savings into an account with a self-directed IRA custodian for the purpose of then having those funds transferred to him. Rather than investing the money turned over to him, Buck used some of the money on himself, as well as to pay other victims in order to convince those victims that their investments were earning the promised returns.
Beginning in January 2014 when Buck had exhausted all of the victims’ funds in his PFG account and could no longer make any payments to the victims, he falsely represented that: there was no issue with PFG financially; PFG was updating software, or was slowed by new federal regulations, or was being sold to another company and no assets could be released until the sale was complete; victim money was in PFG’s possession, but Buck could not physically access it; or that Buck was pursuing legal action against PFG.
As a result of the scheme, Buck obtained at least $1,961,364 from the victims. The indictment seeks forfeiture of at least this amount.
Buck faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each of the five counts of mail fraud.
An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.
Today’s announcement is part of efforts underway by President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF) which was created in November 2009 to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Since the inception of FFETF in November 2009, the Justice Department has filed more than 12,841 financial fraud cases against nearly 18,737 defendants including nearly 3,500 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, visit www.stopfraud.gov.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the FBI for its work in the investigation and thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean Delaney, who is prosecuting the case.