The economy may be in recovery, but there are still plenty of people struggling to get ahead, trying to make up for past losses and save up a nest egg for the future by investing money. Unfortunately, there are some unscrupulous folks out there offering investors a payoff they never intend to deliver.
The Texas State Securities Commission recently announced the convictions of three people charged with promoting fraudulent investments. Altogether, the men received 125 years in prison.
On Jan. 31, Eddie Lacy Stivers III was sentenced in Hood County State District after being convicted of three charges: first-degree securities fraud (for which he received an 85-year sentence), first-degree theft (85 years), and second-degree securities fraud (20 years). Sentences will be served concurrently.
Stivers reportedly engaged in the fraudulent sale of stock and promissory notes through Life Style Protectors and Advisors LLC. His previous companies were Patriot Insurance Co. and Patriot Holding Co.
Stivers sold investment contracts that he told investors would have given them shares in Patriot Holding and Patriot Insurance and let them receive some profits from any affiliate company of Patriot Holding. One elderly investor, now deceased, reportedly invested more than $117,000 and lost it all.
Stivers reportedly used investors’ money to pay some of his personal expenses–and to make payments to his criminal defense lawyer.
Also on Jan. 31, William Paul Hudson of Plano was convicted of theft related to an oil and gas scam and sentenced to 10 years in state prison on Jan. 31 in Collin County State District Court. He also received a sentence of 10 years, probated for securities fraud and money laundering. He was ordered to pay restitution.
Hudson reportedly stole approximately $600,000 from at least 50 investors in multiple oil and gas projects, including the Gulf Coast Project, which was supposed to re-enter existing wells in Jackson, Gonzales, and Jim Wells counties.
On Jan. 24, David Kevin Lewis, aka David Shane Lewis, was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison and ordered to pay $2.5 million in restitution for his role as chairman and director of field operations for Richardson-based Always Consulting Inc. On Sept. 4, 2013, a U.S. District Court jury in Dallas convicted Lewis on one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and 23 counts of securities fraud.
Lewis helped direct a multi-million-dollar scam based on the sale of oil and gas offerings. He was reportedly one of ACI’s “closers,” who was brought in to finalize deals with prospective investors.
BBB advises consumers to recognize Red Flags of Investment Opportunities:
- Requires a large upfront investment. One of the most common complaints BBB receives about investment opportunities from consumers is paying fees and not receiving the promised income. Many times, potential investors pay in advance but are unable to reach the company when concerns arise.
- Promises high returns for low risk. Every investment comes with a level of risk. Typically the amount of risk increases with the potential return on the investment. If the investment claims a high return with little or no risk, beware, even if it comes with the promise of a money-back guarantee.
- Uses high pressure sales tactics. Watch for claims referencing there are only a few spots left or that getting in immediately will ensure the greatest returns. A reputable investment company will let consumers take their time to do research without pressure for an immediate decision.
- Sounds too good to be true. Generally, if the offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is. The potential payoff is rarely worth the risk.