Court proceedings concluded this month for 15 investors who fell victim to stockbroker fraud in which Lawrence E. Chia, a former Michigan stockbroker, stole around $2 million by “investing” their money in “Crystal Sky” and then mailing falsified subscription statements. “Crystal Sky” was the name Chia gave to his fake bond fund and all mailed statements were completely fictitious.
Chia’s broker misconduct took place between 1997 and July 2002, when he was a resident and stockbroker in Troy. He pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud on December 2, 2010, but sentencing was not passed until August 8, 2011. According to prosecutors, once he had taken his clients’ money, instead of investing it, he used the funds to trade on his personal investment account and pay personal expenses. He then led investors to believe their money had been safely invested by mailing the falsified statements.
In response to this case, authorities are stressing the importance of investor diligence in thoroughly checking their statements for any indication of foul play.
“Today’s swindlers artfully conceal their greed with sophisticated marketing and numerous misrepresentations," says Andrew G. Arena, a special agent for the FBI. "Investors must remain diligent in following their money.”
Chia, a citizen of Singapore, was sentenced to 40 months in prison by U.S. District Court Judge Victoria Roberts.
It is important to note that Chia’s scheme went unchecked for 4-5 years. It is possible that if just one of the 15 bilked investors had taken a closer look at their statements and contacted a stockbroker fraud attorney for advice, the damage may have been contained to fewer victims and a significantly smaller amount of money. Investors who believe their statements may have been falsified or tampered with should contact the Law Office of Christopher J. Gray, P.C. for a confidential, no-cost consultation.