Lorain Financial Consultant Charged with Stealing More Than $1M From Clients
A Vermilion certified financial planner and self-employed tax preparer
has been charged with defrauding approximately 25 clients out of their
retirement savings in an alleged investment fraud scheme involving self-directed IRAs.
According to authorities, Richard A. Zakarian used a variety of misrepresentations
to gain access to more than $1 million of his clients’ retirement
savings. Zakarian allegedly told the investors their funds would be placed
in safe investments that guaranteed returns. Many investors believed they
were investing in companies that offered self-directed IRAs.
Instead of doing as promised, however, authorities say Zakarian invested
some of the retirement funds in risky ventures and diverted the remainder
for his personal use.
Prosecutors also allege that Zakarian targeted clients from his tax preparation
business whom he “knew to have available funds and to be vulnerable
to his pitch through their lack of financial sophistication and/or prior
relationship of trust in him.”
In addition to operating the investment fraud scheme, Zakarian has been
charged with defrauding dozens of his clients, including charities, churches,
schools, and homeless shelters, in a multi-million-dollar payroll scheme.
“Zakarian devised the scheme in hopes of raising money to be able
to pay victims of his investment fraud scheme,” stated the U.S.
Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio. “He hoped
to generate large, quick profits, which he would use to cover his operating
expenses, repay his investment clients, pay his clients’ employment
taxes and have money left over; instead, he consistently lost money.”
To learn more about Zakarian's investment fraud case, click here.