Elderly investors bilked in annuities scam to get bubkes

Will receive 2.8 cents on the dollar after getting hoodwinked by insurance agent

Mar 29, 2012 @ 4:03 pm

By Darla Mercado

A group of mostly elderly investors ensnared in a $7 million scam involving so-called “private annuities” will be getting back only a sliver of their original investment.

On Tuesday, the trustee overseeing the bankruptcy case of insurance agent John F. Langford of Amarillo, Texas, revealed that most of the clients in a fraud masterminded by the agent will be getting back only 2.8 cents for every dollar they had invested.

Mr. Langford is currently doing time — 15 years in prison — after pleading guilty last fall to 15 counts of securities fraud and other charges. The Texas State Securities Board said that he stole close to $7 million from dozens of clients through the sale of unregistered products, including phony “private annuities” and promissory notes that promised interest rates as high as 9%.

After going through Mr. Langford's assets, which included an $85,000 Jackson National Life Insurance Co. annuity and $2,600 in furs and jewelry, trustee Kent Ries was able to scrape up $212,126 from which to pay off unsecured creditors' claims.

The jailed insurance agent owes money to 111 individuals and companies.

Among the largest claims Mr. Langford is facing: a $1.24 million claim from Hazel Carter, guardian of investor Ruth Alice Roach–Worak. Ms. Carter pursued Mr. Langford in federal bankruptcy court in Texas, arguing that Mr. Langford had made misrepresentations to Ms. Roach-Worak when selling “private annuities” to her between 2004 and 2006.

Ms. Roach-Worak, who was over age 80 at the time, had chipped in about $950,000 in purchasing the phony investments, many of which weren't expected to come due until she was over 90.

Ms. Carter is expected to net only $35,765 out of her million dollar claim, according to trustee documents.

Bob Elder, spokesman for the Texas State Securities Board, noted that in many fraud cases, victims manage to get only a few cents on the dollar.

“There's generally little recovery in fraud cases,” he said. “This fraud has gone on for a while, and Mr. Langford made a number of Ponzi-type payments. The money disappeared, and this is why it's critically important for investors to check if the person and the investment are registered before making an investment.”

He noted that often victims make the mistake of purchasing unregistered investments from insurance agents, assuming that “because they're involved in the financial field, they're authorized to sell securities.”

A call to Mr. Langford's attorney Tim Pirtle was not immediately returned.


What do you think?

View comments

Recommended for you

Featured video


Regulators' gloves are coming off with cybersecurity. Put up your dukes with these tips

Updated guidelines and some of the first-ever rule enforcements signal that regulators are getting serious about holding firms accountable for data breaches, according to special projects editor Liz Skinner and technology reporter Ryan Neal.

Recommended Video

Keys to a successful deal

Latest news & opinion

Blackrock exposed data on 12,000 financial advisers

The data appeared in three spreadsheets, linked on one of the New York-based company's web pages dedicated to its iShares exchange-traded funds

Advisers throw cold water on FIRE movement

Millennials love it, advisers don't: Turns out, extreme early retirement is a suitable goal for almost nobody.

10 universities with the most billionaire alumni

These 10 American schools have the greatest number of alumni who are billionaires.

Top-performing ETFs of 2018

The markets took a beating last year, but these exchange-traded funds bucked the trend

Morningstar says investors rushed the exits in 2018

Net flows into mutual funds and ETFs were the lowest since the 2008 financial crisis, while money-market funds captured inflows.


Hi! Glad you're here and we hope you like all the great work we do here at InvestmentNews. But what we do is expensive and is funded in part by our sponsors. So won't you show our sponsors a little love by whitelisting investmentnews.com? It'll help us continue to serve you.

Yes, show me how to whitelist investmentnews.com

Ad blocker detected. Please whitelist us or give premium a try.


Subscribe and Save 60%

Premium Access
Print + Digital

Learn more
Subscribe to Print