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Investments - Private

Investments in a Local Credit Union Went Pffft!?

August 5, 2020

by Howard Haykin



Their trusted broker recommended a Short-Term Investment Program with a Local Credit Union, paying a 7% return. Though not offered by the broker-dealer, American Portfolios Financial Services, it seemed so right. However, while the credit union was real, the investment opportunity was fictitious.



Using a convincing sales pitch, the broker with American Portfolios managed to raise at least $1,150,000 from 5 investors. All the checks were made payable to the local credit union, and they were ‘dutifully’ deposited into a credit union account. Yet, unbeknownst to investors, the account was one that the broker controlled, and he began misappropriating the funds.


The broker managed to cover up his scheme by providing his customers with falsified account statements. But like many similar schemes, this one soon began to fall apart, in three stages.


  • Stage 1:  An early investor asked for and received his $250,000 investment plus $17,500 in interest. 
  • Stage 2:  Other early investors, who invested $500,000, became suspicious when they stopped receiving account statements for their purported investment.
  • Stage 3:  Subsequent investors expressed concern about the legitimacy of the falsified statement that supposedly evidenced their $400,000 investment.



ALL THAT GLITTERS ISN’T GOLD, …  and THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS A FREE LUNCH.  Regardless of who’s doing the selling, investors can never be too trusting. And to safeguard one’s financial assets, investors and/or their independent designated financial watchdogs must conduct appropriate due diligence. With private investment opportunities, this means: (i) obtaining and analyzing the Private Placement Memorandum (PPM) or other deal documentation; and, (ii) identifying and researching all key players in the deal. If such information is not available or readily forthcoming, simply “leave the table” - there will be other deals.


While most deals and brokers/agents are legitimate, there will always be “exceptions to the rule” – as in the case above.



[For further details, click on ... SEC Litigation Release and SEC Complaint.]