A financial advisor who tried to elude authorities by faking his own suicide has been sentenced to seven years in prison for defrauding investors, including members of his church, out of more than $5 million, according to the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington.
The crimes of Aaron Travis Beaird, 39, were uncovered when he tried to collect a life insurance death benefit on a client who was still living, says U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. Many of Beaird’s victims were member of his church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Beaird, from the Seattle suburb of Enumclaw, Wash., was also ordered by a U.S. District Court judge on Friday to serve three years of supervised release and pay restitution of $5.7 million. He was arrested in the Seattle area last summer after he fled to Scotland for a week. He was charged with mail fraud and wire fraud.
Before leaving, he tried to fake his own suicide by leaving his car on a nearby island with a suicide note in it. He also sent notices to several clients in which he confessed his fraud and said he was going to kill himself, the U.S. Attorney says. His scheme went on for nearly 10 years.
The retirement savings of many of Beaird’s victims have been wiped out. “In most instances, each victim’s financial well-being has been irreparably damaged. Life savings were wiped out,” the prosecutors sentencing memo says. He held himself out to be a fiancial advisor to friends, family and members of his church, where he was seen as a leader.
“These crimes were a betrayal of trust,” Durkan says. “Mr. Beaird’s friends, relatives and members of his church thought he was safeguarding their famlies’ future. Instead, he used their money to live well, turning their dreams into nightmares.”
He told clients he was investing their money conservatively in annuities and life insurance products but did not make the investments he purported to make in statements sent to clients, Durkan says.