The US Securities and Exchange Commission has charged an ex-Edward Jones advisor with defrauding clients out of funds up to $1.2m over a six year period.
The commission accuses Bernard M. Parker of using client funds to remodel his home and pay bills while lying to the 22 clients as to the money’s whereabouts. He used his position to tell clients they were investing in tax liens when in fact he could well have been perusing colour charts and knocking down dry wall.
“We allege that while Parker was using investor funds for his personal expenses, he provided investors with computer printouts of vacant lots or homes and falsely told them that his company held liens on those properties,” said Sharon B. Binger, Director of the SEC’s Philadelphia Regional Office.
It is thought that Parker, 54, set up his self-named firm in 2008 while also continuing to work at Edward Jones, however they are not named in the filed complaint.
Authorities say that over a six-year period, up until 2014, Parker told clients that they would purchase tax liens placed by municipalities in Florida, Colorado and Arizona. They then gave Parker amounts ranging from $3,500 to $50,000 which he would pool into several bank accounts. When he cashed the investors’ checks he routinely deposited a portion of the money into a bank account and took the remainder in cash.
“Once he gained their trust, investors gave Parker thousands of dollars apiece for purported investments, and he swiftly stole their money.”
It is said that Edward Jones queried Parker about his second business in 2013 however he told them it had only been running since 2012 and had only made $332.12 that year. The SEC says that Parker had in fact forgot to add a few zeros and collected $300,000 that year. His contract with Edward Jones was terminated in 2014.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania also announced criminal charges against Parker.