Thursday, March 26, 2015

Is your financial planner a crook?

Can you predict if a financial planner is likely to cheat you? 

By Greg Wright, MBA, CFE, CFP, CLU, ChFC

FEB 20, 2017 UPDATE 

The following was submitted by the current resident of Redmond's former Carmel, IN home:

"Your article still states  “Here is his former gated residence in Carmel, IN that he purchased in 2007 and was sold on 10/18/2012 for $535,781.”  Redmond never bought the home he was leasing it from the home owner at the time, xxxx xxxxxx.  Look at the Record I sent – he never owned xxxxx xxxx Rd. home.  Also, we bought the home form xxxxx for $420,000, not $535,781 as you incorrectly state.  Please delete or change this to accurately reflect that facts.

Also, you state it is a “gated residence.”  It is not.  It is a modest home with a 3 types of fencing along the property lines.  The driveway gate is ornamental not for security, especially since the fencing can easily be scaled by any would be intruder.  Also, the north and south fence lines have unlocked gates on them as well, so we can get to neighbors’ homes easily.  Our children use them to play with neighbor kids all the time.

I request you not call our family’s home a “gated residence.”  “Gated residence” conjures up images of a home with automatic locking gates, swimming pools, pool houses, media rooms, fountains, etc.  We have none of that.  Again, our 3 bedroom home is far from luxurious and would not be labeled a “gated residence.” Even by a real estate agent.  I invite you to come and see for yourself how modestly we live and how modest the property really is."

According to the Indiana Department of Corrections website, a Thomas H Redmond,  prisoner #233036, is no longer in prison.  His release was scheduled by the DOC to be by July 15, 2015.

“By the time a boy is twelve years old, his mother, a teacher, or the boy himself can predict with great accuracy his future behavior.”  [i]

Unless you live in a small community, few have known their financial planner  when he or she was 12 years old.  So how are we supposed to predict?  Let’s look at the case of convicted Carmel  securities fraudster Thomas Heflin Redmond, Jr. to see if there is anything in his background that might be a red flag alerting us to future wrongdoing.  

Thomas Redmond, Jr. mug shot
Redmond became a licensed insurance agent in 1999 and entered the securities industry in 2000.  He told investigators he began taking client funds for his personal use in 2004.[ii]

He met many of his victims at church and gained their trust through what they believed were shared beliefs.  He told clients that he would invest the money, but he often deposited the funds into his personal checking account.  He then sent out false account statements indicating that client funds were invested in securities and earning returns.   

Text Box: Picture of Redmond’s former home removed at the request of the current owner.An 86-year old victim invested her inheritance money with Redmond’s, Faith Financial Planners.  Redmond placed almost half of a 60-year-old widow’s funds in high-risk investments, including $100,000 in an oil and gas offering by Provident Royalties LLC. 

Other investors had their signatures forged on Provident oil and gas subscription agreements.  He falsely claimed that he had personally invested “a third of his assets” in Provident. 
He formed Faith Financial Planners in 2003 and later informed regulators that he had formed Velocity Capital, Inc. in 2009.  However, the Indiana Secretary of State had no record of Velocity. 
Year 2010 was a year of disputes with customers, disputes with regulators, and visits to small claims court.  In 2011, he was barred by regulatory authorities from selling securities; but, he continued to solicit securities sales. 

Two years later, in June 2013, Indiana securities regulators were contacted by Redmond’s employer, Provident Capital Management of Carmel, Indiana. Local securities investigators examined the allegations.  And, in July 2013 Redmond pled guilty to the charges and was sentenced to 15 years, ten years executed, and to pay restitution totaling $460,121.25.

Liberty Hall
Redmond, prisoner DOC #233036, currently is located in Liberty Hall located at 675 E Washington St, Indianapolis, IN 46204.  According to the Indiana Department of Corrections, his earliest possible release date is July 15, 2015.  Liberty Hall is shown at the left.

Is there anything in his early history that would indicate that he would become a fraudster?  Let’s take a look at “open source” (public) records.

Mr. Redmond  was graduated from Butler University in 1973 and finished his career in first place on Butler's all-time list for receiving yards with 1,933 on 117 receptions. Also, he was named 1971 Indiana Collegiate Conference Lineman of the Year.  Redmond was a “big man on his college campus.” 

We also know that he was close to his father, who had received a college athletic scholarship, been an insurance company executive, an equestrian, and served time in a federal prison. 

Redmond at Butler Univ.
Little public information is available about Redmond Jr. following his 1973 graduation from Butler until 1982.  When applying for a securities license, he told regulators that, on June 16, 1982, he engaged in a bar fight at the Holiday Inn South in Fort Wayne, Indiana where he was found guilty of a misdemeanor, received a 30 day suspended sentence.  He is quoted as follows, “There was a fight in the lounge which led to several hundred dollars of damage.  The credit card I tried to pay the bill with belonged to one of the guys I was with and he left me and the card was overlimit.”[iii] (SIC)  The address shown in the police report was that of a Noblesville horse farm owned by a relative.

He also told securities licensing regulators that he was arrested on Dec. 13, 1984 and convicted of one count of possession of Cocaine and placed on probation for one year.  He said the following, “This was a very down time in my life.  I was divorced and my ex-wife was remarried with my two daughters that I missed every moment of the day.  Thanks to the treatments, I received through 1985, I was able to move on to very positive things in my life.”[iv]  (SIC) Again, the same horse farm address was used in court documents.

Lois Woodworth
In 1997, Redmond was sued by then 78-year-old Lois Patricia Woodworth, also of Noblesville, Indiana, as the executrix of the estate of her late husband, Stanley Woodworth.   The same horse farm address was used in these court records.  The case was dismissed because “plaintiff failed to show cause in writing . . . “

Thomas Redmond obtained a life insurance license in 1999 and a securities license in 2000.  From year 2000 to 2005, in rapid succession, he was employed by four different securities firms.  These firms provided him with securities products to sell to his customers.  Along the way, perhaps he tired of explaining all of the changes in broker-dealer business relationships and, in 2003, he formed Faith Financial Planners of Indiana, LLC. 

Registration Dates
Firm Name
Feb. 2000
Dec. 2000
Tower Equities, Inc.
March 2001
March 2002
SII Investments, Inc.
March 2002
Nov. 2003
Freedom Financial, Inc.
Nov. 2003
Aug. 2005
Empire Financial Group, Inc.
August 2005
Nov. 2007
Capital Financial Services, Inc.
Dec. 2007
Oct. 2009
Next Financial Group, Inc.
My personal judgment is that Redmond’s employment broker-dealer history from 2000 to 2005 was a big red flag.   That information was available from public sources[v] and should have caused investors to ask Redmond tough questions.  According to court records, Redmond started taking client funds for personal use in 2004. 

Year 2010 was a tough year for Redmond when he experienced a series of customer complaints filed with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).  In 2011 he was barred from selling securities by FINRA. 

Cash may have been tight because he was also hit by a small claims court case filed against him by a recovery firm.  Shortly thereafter, Indiana regulators were contacted by his employer and Redmond was investigated by the Indiana Securities Division.  He pled guilty and was incarcerated at the Indiana Miami Correctional Facility located in Bunker Hill, Indiana and later moved to Liberty Hall in Indianapolis.

This case is tragic or many reasons.  Mr. Redmond showed great promise as a college student and was an outstanding college athlete.  He obviously is intelligent, likeable, inventive, and articulate.  His victims were primarily older, trusting Christians.

Most investment fraud can be avoided.  In this case, a Google search of public sources would have thrown up several red flags.  Investors should check out their financial planners and ask tough questions.  Ask friends and relatives that may not be accountants, lawyers or fraud investigators.  If it does not make sense or seem too good to be true, run.

Feb. 6, 2017 UPDATE:  The current owner sent me the following email today that was edited by me in part:

"Mr. Wright, We request that you please remove the reference to Thomas Redmond's previous residential address at xxxxx Ditch Rd., and remove the picture as well from your blog: My wife, xxxxx xxxxx, and I now own and live at XXXXX Ditch Rd. with our family. Since buying the home and moving in, we have received numerous visits from TV reporters, law enforcement agencies, collection agencies, attorney's representing victims, etc. We also receive mountains of mail addressed to Thomas Redmond and Faith Financial Planning. Putting evil Thomas Redmond's previous residential address, which is now ours, in your online article helps continue to exacerbate our frustrating situation. Please feel free to contact me about this." 

[i] Research project conducted by Ohio State university juvenile Delenquancy ResearchProgram directed by Walter C. Reckless.  Published in the Elementary Scool Journal, 1964, the University of Chicago Press.
[ii] Associaed Press; “Carmel financial advisor accused of using faith to prey on victims,” April 1, 2013.
[iii] FINRA BrokerCheck Report for Thomas Heflin Edmond Jr
[iv] Ibid
[v] Ibid
Other sources include:
1.       FINRA letter of accetance, waiver and Consent No. 2009020417501 dated Oct. 25, 2011
2.       SEC Administrative Proeedng File No. 3-15044 In the Matter of Thomas H. Redmond, Jr., Respondent. Dated June 25, 2014

Monday, March 2, 2015

The embezzler is a family member and business partner.

By Greg Wright, MBA, CFE, CFP, CLU, ChFC

Mr. Floyd recently emailed me “I recently read an article in Food Processing Magazine (Jan 2015) called ‘Look Out for the Fraud Triangle[i]’, and quite frankly, it opened my eyes in explaining exactly what I’ve been dealing with in my company.  Specifically, with my partner, and brother-in-law, of whom I share equal shares in the company.” (sic)

Floyd tried to file charges against his brother-in-law, only to be told by the Prosecutor’s office that it was a civil case.  Floyd’s story is unfolded for you below. 

Several months ago Mr. Dale came into Mr. Floyd’s office, agitated, and, according to Floyd, blurted out.The bank wants us to pay $200,000 by the end of the week or they are calling in (our) loan.”  Since Dale was the Chief Financial Officer and had continually told him “everything was fine,” Floyd was angry.  Whenever Floyd had asked about the finances, the CFO would tell him it’s complicated, you wouldn’t understand.”

Floyd and Dale were equal shareholders in a 50-year-old engineering company with Fortune 500 clients of long-standing.  The organization was known for creative solutions and prompt service.  Their excellent, seasoned staff, ISO certification, and state-of-the-art software were a testament to Floyd’s engineering capability and design team leadership.  Dale, a lawyer, was the administrative head.

They had known one another since Floyd married Dale’s sisters over thirty years ago.  They became business partners when Floyd needed cash to purchase the firm from the original owner who retired.  Floyd’s mother-in-law provided most of the cash.  Dale had the credentials to be CFO and wanted to leave his law firm.  He no longer enjoyed the practice of law.  The deal was made in heaven. 


When I met Floyd, he characterized himself as being a creative engineer and team cheer leader.  He told me that the firm’s success was due to the technical excellence of his staff.  His job was to work with clients, define the objectives of each job, be a cheer-leader, and make sure the job got done right and on time.  Dale was the administrator, bean counter and had little or no interest in the technical side of the business.  Both received the same salary, benefits, and corporate dividend. 

Floyd hated accounting.  But, after being notified by Dale that the bank wanted to call their loans, he reached a tipping point. Recent yellow flags of caution became red flags that he had failed to act appropriately.  He had received a few personal calls from long-term suppliers about delinquent bills.  He could not understand how their company could have survived the 2008 economic downturn, currently be so successful, and at the same time apparently “be so money starved.”

He reached out to the firm’s CPA, who told him that he had been waiting for him to call.  The CPA had harbored strong suspicions about Dale’s managing of the firm’s finances, but he was under strict orders from Dale to “just do the taxes, nothing else.”  He suspected that something was going on and that Dale didn’t keep good records.  Floyd and his wife spend time with the accountant learning about the firm’s QuickBooks software.  They found several anomalies between the bank statements and the books:
  • Checks written to Dale for large amounts without supporting documents
  • A checking account ATM authority with Dale as the only authorized person
  • Multiple ATM withdrawals
  • Check numbers not recorded in QuickBooks. 
  • Fictitious open aged accounts receivable
  • Over $200,000 was unaccounted

Where did the money go?

Apparently Dale knew that it was only a matter of time until all of the facts came out into the open.  He arranged and met with Floyd off-site where he confessed that he gave himself a $50,000 raise last year without telling him.  After confronted Dale with the accounting anomalies he and his wife had found, Floyd asked him why he needed the money.
Was it drugs or alcohol?  Dale said “No.”  Floyd next asked, “Do you have a mistress on the side?”  “No,” responded Dale and he then abruptly left.  Later that day Floyd’s wife said that Dale had visited her following their earlier meeting and confessed that he had stolen money from the firm. 

Where did the money go?

After Dale was banished from the building, and the locks were changed, his computer was searched, and an intact file was uncovered that had not successfully been erased.  The file laments the emotional abuse Dale allegedly received from his father, and Dale’s addiction.  Floyd sent me the file which, in part, reads as follows:

“Fifth Step.
Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”
“When I had to make tough decisions I would run from them and into my sex addiction.  After I acted out, the pressure to make a decision would grow, and with it my anxiety.  I would escape back into my addiction.  And this downward spiral continued for 40 years.”

"The last 4 or 5 years I started to slip into a feeling of hopelessness and depression, that things would never improve.  That my addiction would get worse until it consumed me.  Part of me wanted to get caught so that maybe I could find help, but I couldn’t imagine what that help could be.”  (more later)

The above quotes were taken from that file; but, Floyd and Dale are not their real names.  Dale has recanted his confession to Floyd and his sister (Floyd’s wife).  

Today Floyd and Dale are locked in legal combat. 

The Fraud Triangle article mentioned in the opening paragraph helped Floyd understand the embezzlement that has befallen his firm.  Famed Criminologist Dr. Donald Cressey is credited with the Fraud Triangle in his book “Other People’s Money.[ii]  Cressey maintained “for embezzlement to occur, there must be: (1) a non-sharable problem, (2) an opportunity for trust violation and (3) a set of rationalizations that define the behavior as appropriate in a given situation. He wrote that none of these elements alone would be sufficient to result in embezzlement; instead, all three elements must be present.”

Interestingly, if you were to read Dr. Cressey’s books and papers, Dr. Cressey did not use the term “fraud triangle.”   Others later ascribed that term to him. 

Based on a computer file on Dale’s computer and attributed to him (confirmed by metadata), it appears that Dale’s “non-sharable problem” was a satyriasis addiction.   His position as Chief Financial Officer acting without supervision provided the opportunity.  His rationalization was that Floyd’s son (Dale’s nephew), several years ago, had worked as a temporary employee. Dale was aware and had approved the hiring. 

Dale’s Fifth Step diary continued as follows, “And I was consumed with Fear.  Fear of getting caught and the humiliation that would cause me. Fear of losing my wife.  Fear of losing the respect of my children.  And fear of getting help and what that help might be.  Would I have to go away to get inpatient and how would I explain that to my wife, my kids, my friends and my coworkers?  And fear of having to tell anyone what I had been doing.”
Some experts believe that family member fraud is greater due to an environment of trust. For most business owners, it is difficult to understand or recognize that a family member seen almost every day could be stealing from you. 

Protect your business:
  • Have the bank statement mailed to your home.  Open it.
  • You are not too small to have a fraud hot-line. Encourage your employees, customers and suppliers to report suspicious behavior. Protect whistle-blowers.
  • Personally sit down alone with your outside accountant, company lawyer, and insurance agent every year. 
  • Background check key people.   Include relatives in key positions.
  • Ask a Certified Fraud Examiner to do a fraud assessment every four years. 

[i]D. M. Studler, “Swap the Food Pyramid for the Fraud Triangle,” Food Processing, January 5, 2015, page 1.
[ii] Donald Cressey, Other People's Money: A Study in the Social Psychology of Embezzlement. Montclair, N.J.: Patterson Smith, 1973