Ex-Broker Pleads Guilty To Stealing $500K From Clients

 
 

What You Need to Know

  • A former broker and chief compliance officer pleaded guilty to wire fraud.

  • The charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

  • Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 27, 2023, at 1 p.m. at U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York in Buffalo.

A former registered broker and advisor pleaded guilty to wire fraud as part of a scheme in which she stole more than $500,000 from several clients and from the firm itself, Trini E. Ross, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York, said Wedneday.

Jennifer Campbell, 47, of Niagara Falls, New York, pleaded guilty to the one charge before Judge Lawrence J. Vilardo on Oct. 19 in U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York in Buffalo, according to court documents.

The charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, according to Ross.

Campbell’s sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 27, 2023, at 1 p.m. before Judge Vilardo.

Campbell was a registered broker with Wells Fargo Advisors from November 2012 to August 2015, according to her report on the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s BrokerCheck website.

Ross didn’t identify Campbell’s broker-dealer by name, and the Justice Department didn’t identify the firm by name in its May 31, 2022, indictment against the former registered rep, only referring to the company she worked at as “Advisory Firm 1.”

Campbell was “employed by Investment Advisory Firm 1 from approximately 2017 until approximately May 2021” as its office manager and then, “beginning in approximately 2018, also served” as its chief compliance officer, the indictment said.

She had access to client accounts and, between November 2018 and May 2021, Campbell used that access to “steal over $500,000 from several clients and from the firm itself, primarily by writing checks from client accounts, forging the signatures of either the client or a principal at the firm, and then depositing the checks into her own personal account,” Ross said.

Campbell “took various steps to conceal her theft,” Ross noted. “In one instance, she sent a victim a falsified account statement that purported to show an account balance of approximately $148,000, when in fact the account at the time had a balance of only $93.”

As another example, “Campbell took funds from a client and transferred them to the bank account of one of her earlier victims,” according to Ross.

Campbell also gained access to the email accounts of the investment advisory firm’s principals and diverted emails they received from anti-money laundering and financial crimes personnel at the firm’s broker-dealer, according to Ross.

That BD wasn’t named by Ross in her press release on Wednesday but was identified as Raymond James & Associates in the indictment.

The BD started to “raise questions about some of the transactions that Campbell had engaged in,” Ross said. In an attempt to hold off those inquiries, Campbell sent a few emails using the email account of a firm principal, according to Ross.

In the emails, Campbell “made various false statements and submitted fake documentation in an effort to make the transactions appear legitimate,” Ross said.

The Securities and Exchange Commission filed a separate civil complaint against Campbell in the same court on June 2, 2022, charging her with the same scheme to defraud her clients.