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.”