A recent investment fraud scheme involving a former Philadelphia linebacker and a Virginia businessman cheated Virginia investors out of $10 million in retirement and investment funds. The fraudsters used the retirement savings of many elderly investors to purchase luxury homes, vehicles and vacations, leaving investors with huge financial losses. Many investors lost their homes and had to file for bankruptcy.
Investment Fraud Costs Investors Millions
The two main fraudsters in this investment fraud scheme are two Virginia businessmen, Merrill Robertson and Sherman Carl Vaughn, Jr. In 2010, the two men formed a company, Cavalier Union Investments that offered a variety of investment opportunities in real estate, restaurants, and alternative energy resources. The firm catered to many senior IRA account holders who invested a large portion of their retirement income and savings in various investments.
Merrill Robertson is a former Philadelphia Eagles linebacker who formed an investment company with Vaughn after his football career ended. Robertson had previously worked for Merrill Lynch. Vaughn was never licensed as a broker at all. Shortly after Cavalier Union Investments was formed, the company became insolvent and the two men developed the Ponzi scheme that took cash from new investors to pay back previous investors.
The scheme worked for a while, until investors started to complain and the SEC and federal law enforcement launched an investigation. As a result, the two men were arrested and convicted of investment fraud. Merrill Robertson was sentenced to 40 years in prison and Vaughn was sentenced to 12 years. The two men were ordered to pay back approximately $9 million in restitution to their 60 victims who suffered financial damages.
Many investors who were defrauded assumed they were transferring tax-deferred retirement savings accounts to other types of tax-deferred accounts, but Cavalier was never registered to handle these types of accounts. Cavalier accepted investors' checks and deposited them into business accounts, rather than customer investment accounts.
Both Robertson and Vaughn took big commissions off the top and used the money for personal gain. Investor funds were used for the men's personal expenses for house payments, car payments, school tuition, expensive jewelry and clothing, private planes, luxury vacations, and private retreats. They even donated a portion of their victims' funds to a Robertson family charity.