Blake Richards (Richards), a former Georgia representative of LPL Financial (LPL), was charged by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) with defrauding investors and misappropriating $2 million dollars from at least seven clients. According to the complaint filed by the SEC in the Northern District Court of Georgia, Richards directed clients to write checks from retirement accounts or from life insurance policy proceeds in the name of investment businesses he owned, such as “Blake Richards Investments” and “BMO Investments.” However, according to the SEC, his clients’ money was not used for legitimate investing purposes as Richards siphoned off millions for his own personal use.
Richards was a registered representative of LPL from 2009 through May 2013 out of his company, Lanier Wealth Management LLC. According to the SEC’s complaint, Richards used a variety of devices to deceive investors and gain their trust. For instance, Richards is alleged to have created fictitious statements on LPL letterhead in order to continue and conceal his scheme. Richards also gave investors business cards with false professional designations, such as “AAMS”, standing for Accredited Asset Management Specialist, when Richards was not accredited. Finally, Richards even delivered pain medication during a snowstorm to one client’s husband who had been diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer in order to gain the client’s trust.
The SEC complaint seeks an order to disgorge Richard’s ill-gotten gains and to free his assets pending further investigation.