DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Patricia Savage of McKinney and her adult children invested their life savings with a friend of 20 years. “You’re like family.”
She says their friendship soured once they realized they lost all of their money. It was an investment fraud scheme run by their friend, Brion Randall.
Savage alone lost $105,000. “It was a long process of denial because I never thought he would ever do this to my family.”
Shirley Whitfield trusted Randall with her nest egg. “I lost $320,000.”
She says she first met Randall in a 12-step self-help group, and feels “humiliated that I have fallen for such a scheme, but he was a good con-man.” Federal prosecutors in Dallas say both women are among Randall’s 30 victims who collectively lost $6 million.
Savage and Whitfield shared their stories in Dallas as part of a nationwide crackdown on investment fraud called operation broken trust.
In the Northern District of Texas, which includes Dallas and Tarrant Counties, prosecutors say 2,651 victims lost more than $202.1 million in such investment fraud schemes in cases between august and November, 2010. During the same period, there were 120,000 victims nationwide who lost more than $8.3 billion.
At a news conference in Dallas, prosecutors warned people to do their homework, even if they invest with friends.
The U.S. Attorney in the Northern District of Texas, Jim Jacks, says, “It’s your money and you have a right to ask questions about how the money is going to be spent.”
The government is increasing its resources in investigating investment fraud schemes in north Texas. That’s because Whitfield and savage aren’t alone.
The special agent in charge of the FBI in Dallas, Robert Casey says, “there is an ever-widening pool of victims out there.” He adds: “today in north Texas, someone is getting ready to hand over money to a con-man or con-woman.”
Randall pleaded guilty, and is now serving a 15-year sentence in federal prison.
If she could, Whitfield says she would ask him: “how could you possibly do this to people who are so vulnerable?” Whitfield and savage want to warn others, as they try to move on with their own lives.
If you want to find out more information about protecting yourself against such schemes, you can check out the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force website.