“Money Doc” Sickens Retirees. When every week brings a new financial fraud discovery, a Ponzi scheme raising almost $20 million may seem like yesterday’s news. But Texas resident and radio host, William Neil “Doc” Gallagher managed to place 60 senior citizen’s retirement in substantial jeopardy.
The victims of the self-proclaimed “Money Doc” ranged from 62 to 91 years of age, and trusted Gallagher with their retirement funds. Through the three different entities Gallagher used, he actually raised $30 million of which all but one million dollars was as a result of people rolling over IRA and 401(k) balances. Even as late as January 2019, Gallagher raised another $500,000. SEC Complaint.
The SEC brought suit on March 7 against Gallagher, Gallagher Financial Group and W. Neil Gallagher, Ph.D. Agency for his [alleged] Ponzi Scheme. And on March 8, the “Money Doc” was arrested on two first degree felony charges in Dallas County following a Grand Jury Indictment for securities fraud and money laundering. Dallas County Press Release.
The Tragedy. How does anyone over the age of 60 financially recover from losing their retirement savings? Would you want to start your savings plan over?
The Set-Up. Gallagher hosted three weekly retirement radio shows, aiming at a Christian audience. His website incorporated a religious theme and he authored four books including Jesus Christ, Money Master: Four Eternal Truths that Deliver Personal Power and Profit and The Money Doctor’s Guide to Taking Care of Yourself When No One Else Will. With his investment product, Diversified Growth and Income Strategy Account, he promised investors “guaranteed, risk-free returns ranging from 5-8%.” SEC Complaint.
Where’s the Money? The good news for early investors is Gallagher paid them $5.8 million, using other investors’ money. He falsified documents regarding earnings, as he only purchased one annuity worth $75,000. The bad news: As of January 31, 2019, Gallagher’s companies only had $821,951. The SEC claims Gallagher paid $3.2 million in personal expenses, $945,000 for radio, web and media expenses, $2.3 million in payroll, bonuses and consulting fees and $633,000 in legal fees. The SEC or a commercial lawyer will need to track down the rest of the money.
How to Avoid Scams. Unfortunately, there is not a single way to avoid scams, but there are several things you can do to limit your exposure.
- Agent Registration. Securities Registration. Verify if the fund and the agent are registered with the State and the SEC. Gallagher was not currently registered as an investment advisor. Although, he was licensed to sell insurance products in Texas.
- Check History. Gallagher was reprimanded by the Texas State Securities Board in 1999 for advertising he was a registered investment adviser, when he was not, and for falsifying check-receipt books.
- Media Search. In 2009 DMagazine outed Gallagher in an article that is still available on the internet. The article outlines a few of Gallagher’s indiscretions and work history problems, allowing prospects to question Gallagher’s legitimacy. DMagazine Article.
- Verify Statements. If you receive audited financials, send a copy of the auditor statement to the auditor to verify the letter is legitimate. When you receive statements directly from your broker, make sure you also receive statements directly from the fund (if they are not the same person or entity).
- Stay Vigilant. If you recommend an advisor or fund, or you have received a recommendation, stay in touch with other investors. Share any concerns you may have with one another to quickly spot potential issues.
When it comes to investments, retirement savings and financial transactions, you can never be too careful. We hope your investments will yield high rewards. And, if you find yourself in need of commercial lawyer or a breach of contract attorney, we are ready to put our decades of winning experience to work for you.
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