The Securities and Exchange Commission has revoked the registration of a Florida registered investment advisory that it says used a Ponzi scheme to defraud federal and state government workers of at least $34 million.
The SEC issued the revocation order last week against F&S Management Group, a Jacksonville, Fla.-based RIA that specialized in retirement benefits consulting. The SEC says the firm defrauded the workers between 2008 and 2010.
The order was part of a consent decree entered into by the SEC and the estate of Kenneth Wayne McLeod of F&S. F&S did not admit or deny any of the charges as part of the consent agreement.
The SEC complaint says McLeod, who died after the complaint was filed, convinced active and retired federal and state employees and law enforcement agents nationwide to invest in a purported bond fund invested in long-term government securities and promised them guaranteed, tax-free annual returns of 8% to 10%, when in fact the bond fund did not exist.
The SEC says McLeod lured many of his investors through retirement benefits seminars he gave at government agencies. He raised at least $34 million from an estimated 260 investors. The security of the government bonds was a key element of McLeod's deception, but he never purchased any bonds, the SEC says.
Instead, the SEC charged he used the investors' retirement savings to conduct a Ponzi scheme, to pay himself, and to pay for lavish entertainment, including annual trips to the Super Bowl for himself and 40 friends.
According to the SEC's complaint, McLeod traveled to various state and federal government agencies to give seminars. The firm also provided individuals with personalized benefits analyses specific to their retirement plans and financial portfolios. Individuals could also choose to have F&S Asset Management manage their money.
The SEC alleges that the purported safety of the bond fund was an important factor in some investors' decision to retire from law enforcement or public service. Based on McLeod's misrepresentations, some investors rolled over their retirement and savings accounts into the bond fund or invested their inheritances and their children's tuition savings.