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Insurance broker sentenced over 4 years for wire fraud, laundering $1.2M

Bruce Ford, 50, mugshot (Provided Photo/Marion County Sheriff's Office)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A Centerpoint insurance broker was sentenced to 51 months in federal prison for posing as a financial adviser and stealing over $1 million from clients’ investment accounts through a Ponzi scheme, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said Tuesday.

Bruce Ford, 50, pleaded guilty to five counts of wire fraud and two counts of money laundering, according to a release.

Court docs say that from January 2013-December 2018, Ford stole more than $1.2 million from at least 10 victims through fraudulent investments and a Ponzi scheme. On April 5, 2012, Ford created his company, Ford Financial and Insurance Services, and promoted investment services to current and former insurance clients and others without registering his company with the Indiana Securities Division, as required by law.

In 2008, Ford received his license to become an insurance broker in Indiana.

As part of Ford’s scheme to get current and former insurance clients to invest with his company, he posed as a financial adviser and promised clients through false and misleading claims and omissions that he could provide higher returns on their investments so that they would stop their traditional and long-term investment products, such as individual retirement accounts and 401ks.

According to court documents, Ford persuaded his clients to cash out on their retirement and other investment accounts and transfer the funds to Self-Directed Individual Retirement Accounts, promising to invest the funds in real estate and business ventures. Instead, Ford transferred the victims’ money out of their SDIRAs to his own personal bank accounts.

As stated in the release, he used the stolen money to pay his personal credit cards and to purchase goods, services, a mobile home, land, and a vehicle. Some of Ford’s victims were left to suffer substantial financial hardship since many were retired or approaching retirement.

Ford hid his scheme for five years through Ponzi-scheme-type payments by using funds that were stolen from some investors to pay returns to others. Ford had stolen a total of $1,264,208.13 from his victims.

Ford must serve three years on probation following his release and pay $1,089,708.13 in restitution.

“This defendant took advantage of the trust of Hoosier workers and retirees to steal the hard-earned savings intended to provide for the retirements they’d planned,” said Zachary A. Myers, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Indiana, in a statement. “Crooks operating Ponzi schemes under the guise of providing financial services must be identified and held accountable for their crimes. The sentence imposed today is the result of our commitment—together with the FBI, Indiana’s Securities Division and all of our law enforcement partners—to protect investors from fraud.”