A local financial planner has been convicted for his part in an elaborate scheme to defraud numerous victims of more than $4.25 million, San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis announced Thursday.
According to the DA, husband and wife duo Victor Loh, 61, and Jannett A. Bidwell were financial planners who advised investors to self-direct retirement funds into annuities.
From 2008 through 2009 investigators say the couple convinced 17 separate victims to jump sum transfer their retirement funds into companies that Loh and Bidwell created. They described the companies to their clients as “secure investments.”
In reality, investigators say the companies were actually vehicles for the funds to be transferred out to other accounts controlled by the couple. Loh and Bidwell would then spend their clients’ retirement funds on personal expenses, including pricey cars, horses and trips.
The couple also purchased a company that later went into bankruptcy, but continued to solicit victims to invest their retirement funds even during those bankruptcy proceedings.
According to Dumanis, many of the couple’s victims were elderly adults.
“[They] preyed on people, many of them elderly, who thought they were making a sound investment but instead saw their retirement dreams go up in smoke,” said Dumanis.
Loh was sentenced Thursday to serve six years and four months in state prison for his involvement in the fraudulent investment scheme.
Both he and Bidwell were charged on 46 counts in a criminal complaint, including grand theft from an elder or dependent adult and allegations of taking with losses in excess of $1.3 million.
The conviction was obtained after a joint investigation with the DA’s office, the U.S. Secret Service, San Diego Regional Fraud Task Force, California Department of Insurance and California Franchise Tax Board.
Loh pleaded guilty to four counts and the taking with losses allegation, stipulating him to $4.25 million in restitution, in addition to serving time in prison.
The DA’s office says Loh and Bidwell will be sentenced on June 26, 2013.