The Securities and Exchange Commission
(SEC) today charged investment advisor Neal Greenberg of fraudulently marketing his hedge funds as a safe bet to those in retirement or nearing it.
Greenberg was the CEO of Tactical Allocation Services
, based in Boulder, Colo., which made investment recommendations to clients. He was also the head portfolio manager for another advisory firm, Agile Group
, which managed the Agile hedge funds. Combined, those funds held $174 million of capital from more than 100 investors when Greenberg suspended redemptions in September 2008, according to the SEC.
The SEC alleged that Greenberg didn't do his due diligence when determining when it would be suitable to invest in complex hedge fund products, especially when dealing with the elderly clients with limited incomes.
When Agile Group closed down last year, HFMWeek reported the funds were overly exposed
to Bernie Madoff and Tom Petters, two multi-billion dollar ponzi schemers that targeted "unsophisticated investors" too, as the SEC puts it, which includes the elderly.
The FBI and HUD
are still rounding up mortgage fraudsters
that keep their sights trained on elderly borrowers. In addition to investment fraud, reverse mortgage schemes often prey upon elderly homeowners by profiting on phantom equity. Another is "loan flipping" which involves a predatory lender pressuring victims who can't afford a mortgage to repeatedly refinance, trapping them in high fees.
Being an [alleged] fraudster, it seems, takes plenty of work.
It's the question that lingers through all of this: wouldn't it have been easier to simply run a legitimate business?
Write to Jon Prior