Saturday, August 29, 2015

Indianapolis Could Be So in Play

By Greg Wright
Certified Fraud Examiner
Certified Financial Planner™

Conservative Peggy Noonan, penned an excellent article in today’s Wall Street Journal, American Is So in Play.   She is a writer and was an assistant to President Reagan. 

Her thesis is that Trump’s popularity is because of the deep  “estrangement between the elites and the non-elites in America.”  This distrust is shared not only by Republicans, Noonan went on.  Non-illegal Hispanics also distrust the elites of both parties.  Toward the end of her article, she said that “deep down the elites themselves also think the game is rigged.” 

Does Peggy Noonan echo also what it’s like to live in Indianapolis?

Maybe your neighborhood is different; but, this is exactly the way many of my neighbors think. 

My neighborhood is in City-Council District 8 and is mostly Black and Hispanic.  Historically it has been solidly Democratic.  When Councilman Monroe Gray last stood for election, he got two-thirds of the vote without trying very hard.  Most of the votes were straight ticket. 

Our neighborhood members are scattered within an area bordered by Fox Hill, Michigan Road, Grandview and 51st St.  Many of us use the NextDoor social network to share information to get the word out about a break-in, find out who is the best electrician, complain about pot holes, and keep an eye out for a lost dog.

One thing that concerns all of us is the violence and especially home invasions that happen any time day and night.  We all know that there are far too few police to protect us.  Some complain about the millions of tax dollars that are diverted to the owners of professional sports teams when we need more cops and better roads. 

Some do not want to drive at night or in the rain because of the pot holes that can wreck a wheel or kick your car out of alignment.  Again and again, they complain about  taxpayer money going to support professional sports and not to keep the roads repaired.  When we drive outside Marion County, we see a big difference in pot holes and feel more safe than when at home.  Few go to professional sporting events. 

To many of my neighbors, both the Democratic and Republican mayoral candidates appear to be same-o same-o.  We heard the same promises from Ballard when he ran against what’s his name.  Same-o  same-o. 

Noonan said that Americans “don’t like what they see – corruption, shallowness and selfishness in the systems all around them.”  Some see it in Indianapolis as well.

Every politician promises transparency and to do the “right thing.”  But, someone recently wrote that these professional politicians were “as transparent as a brick.”  You don’t have to go much farther than the Blue Indy scandal to understand that neither the Democrats nor the Republicans nor the ones that profess to be independent are interested in fixing pot holes and hiring cops.  They push money to their already rich pals.  It appears to many that they take their instruction from the political bosses in both parties. 

Noonan closes with, “The elites have no faith in the people, which is new.” 

Then comes a non-politician, “like a rock thrown through a show-room window.”   I know you think that it sounds weird; but, many of my neighbors think that it is a shame that Indianapolis doesn’t have political outsiders running against the elites in both parties.

Maybe, should that rock be thrown, Indy could be “so in play.” 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Ed Young sentenced to four years in prison

By Greg Wright
Certified Fraud Examiner
Certified Financial Planner™

Ed Young Mug Shot
On August 5, 2015, for committing forgery, insurance fraud, and theft, Mr. Edward Young was sentenced to four years in prison.  Ed Young and his wife, Judith, have a long history of soliciting insurance products through unlicensed or unregistered entities to Indiana citizens.  Similarly, the Young family was previously charged in Ohio of offering insurance products without having an Ohio insurance license.

After researching multiple investment fraudsters, I have concluded that, prior to being arrested, almost all of them had a public record of not being trustworthy, having customer complaints filed with regulators, and having their license suspended or revoked.   If consumers had known the financial advisor’s record, he or she would never have done business with him.  Their retirement nest-egg would still be intact.

In 2011, the Ohio Department of insurance issued a “cease and desist” order to Edward Young, Judith Young and Fortune Financial Group for soliciting insurance products to the Believers Christian Fellowship Church (Pentecostal) in Lima, Ohio.  According to Ohio Dept. of Insurance documents, meetings were held at the church, and the Young’s were accompanied by Indiana insurance agents Messrs. James Beattey and Mark W. Miller, who also represented Fortune Financial Group. 

Judith Young Mug Shot
The Ohio matter was similar to a 2007 Indiana dept. of insurance when Ed Young, Judith Young and their son Greg Young were the subjects of an Indiana cease and desist order.  At that time, the Indiana Department of Insurance had received complaints regarding the Freedom 7 Program, MBA, Inc., and an irrevocable life insurance trust described as the “Final Tithe.”   Church members were the target.       

For over ten years, Ed Young and Judith Young been the subject of numerous actions by the Indiana Department of insurance and Indiana Securities Division.  Earlier this year,  according to regulators,  between the time he was charged and sentenced, Mr. Ed young attempted to set up a life insurance Company in Wyoming.  We may not have heard the last about Mr. Young. 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Alphabet soup of fraudulent professional designations

By Greg Wright,
Certified Fraud Examiner
Certified Financial Planner™

We hear it almost daily on the radio and read the ad copy that explains: retirement expert helped my parents, he can help seniors like you, specializes in retirement planning.   

 Senior citizens are the focus of stockbrokers and insurance agents because they own well over half of the financial assets in America.  Those assets are becoming liquid as the baby boomer generation retires and move huge amounts of money from corporate 401K plans into personal IRAs and annuities.

The financial services industry has been gearing up to help seniors move that money by designing products and training its salesforce.  They have been very creative in convincing seniors about its representatives’ expertise by incorporating professional appearing designations on their salesmen’s business cards, stationary, and presentations.  Some of these professional designations are of small value and others are simply bogus. 

Unfortunately, some seniors get lulled into believing the senior alphabet soup next to their financial advisor’s name or his marketing materials really means that the person has special skills when it comes to advising seniors. 

State securities regulators have been very worried about this, according to the past president of the North American Securities Administrators Association. "We are taking a growing number of administrative actions against people using designations as part and parcel of fraudulent securities activities, especially with older people."

Professional certifications arose decades ago as a way for firms in various industries to identify qualified practitioners.  In the financial realm, many well-established credentials, including the certified public accountant, chartered financial analyst and certified financial planner designations, require long study, demand continuing education and enforce strict codes of ethics. In order to become a CPA, for example, one must pass a 14-hour CPA exam.

Many newer credentials, however, require comparatively little effort on the part of the students and little or no continuing education.  Some are no better than a certificate you might find as a prize in a cereal box.

A few weeks ago, Massachusetts regulators fined LPL Financial charging that they misrepresented the qualifications of its representatives when working with older investors – seniors.  Apparently an LPL reprehensive referred to himself as a “Retirement Income Planning Specialist.”  The regulators said that LPL had even approved an offending title on a broker’s business card more than once.

What is a senior designation?

There are over 150 financial designations currently in use.  Two specifically identified as offensive by others and not allowed to be used in Indiana in conjunction with the senior market: Certified Senior Consultant and Chartered Senior Financial Planner. 

If you want to check out these two or the alphabet soup next to your financial advisor’s name, a good place to start is the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority website.  There you can find out the experience requirements, testing, continuing education, how to process complaints and the accreditation organization (if any),

To address the senior designation issue, the North American Securities Administrators Association, a group of state securities regulators, and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, a group of state insurance commissioners, both devised a similar model law for states to follow in regulating professional designations that relate to older investors – seniors.  It is called the Model Rule.   

Most states, including Indiana, have adopted the regulations.

These regulations prohibit the uses of senior-specific certifications and professional designations except for seven that have been approved by two certifying organizations and the U.S. government.  The rules deem it unfair and deceptive for an insurance agent or stockbroker to use a professional designation that implies in such a way as to mislead the purchaser that the person has special training in advising or servicing seniors.

This rule does not apply to certifications or designations that have been accredited by the American National Standards Institute, or the national Commission for Certifying Agencies, or an organization on the list of Accrediting Agencies Recognized for Title IV purposes.

Seven professional designations that meet these criteria are:
1.  Certified Financial Planner –CFP
2.  Certified Investment Management Analyst – CIMA
3.  Accredited Retirement plan consultant –ARPC
4.  Certified Medicaid planner – CMP
5.  Certified Retirement counselor – CRC
6.  Certified retirement Financial Advisor – CRFA
7.  Certified Senior Advisor – CSA

However, as much as these regulations appear to be a good idea, according to Indiana regulators, no one has been found to be in violation of these regulations.  Maybe no one has filed a complaint.  Perhaps the regulators don’t listen to the radio.