Ronald Moten joined the Philadelphia Eagles in the draft class of 1987.
Moten was living out a childhood dream. A sixth-round draft pick under coach Buddy Ryan, the linebacker was drafted the same year as tackle Jerome Brown, linebacker Byron Evans, and wide receiver Cris Carter.
Today, Moten is chief of detectives at the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office. He’s happier than he ever was on the football field, and barely watches pro football. (Son Ron Junior, who is in middle school, does play in a local league.)
Surprised? Don’t be.
Pro athletes often fumble retirement, as depicted in the HBO show Ballers. Beset by injury and by missteps with money or family, pro athletes often end up short of their goals in life after the game.
Moten almost ended up that way – but for his decision to go back to college and find a mentor who was a judge. Through an internship at the prosecutor’s office in 1995, Moten’s career trajectory changed entirely.
“As a kid, football was my passion,” Moten says. A native of Clearwater, Fla., he won a football scholarship to the University of Florida, and was snatched up by the Eagles.
“All of a sudden, I was playing on an NFL team with guys I’d grown up admiring, like linebacker Garry Cobb. It was a huge deal.”
Early in a preseason game against the New York Jets, Moten ran downfield and recalls “tweaking my left knee and ankle. I remember the pain. That year was a wash. It was the same injury Wes Hopkins had.”
After spending time on the injured-reserve list, and then a year off trying to rehabilitate, followed by an injury to his other knee, he hung up his football cleats in 1991.
“I knew right after I got hit that my career was over. I was damaged goods.”
At 23, he was out of money and sleeping on a friend’s couch. He was working odd jobs for $5.75 an hour.
Moten had ignored warnings about life after football from the likes of Miami Dolphins’ Mercury Morris, who met with the University of Florida Gators; and Wilbert Montgomery, an Eagles Hall of Famer who is now a coach for the Cleveland Browns.
“It was humbling. Now I had to focus on life after football. I wasn’t prepared,” he says. “I had no choice. I had no degree from the University of Florida because while playing, I was far behind in my credits.”
His mother, stepfather, and six siblings had stayed in Florida. (His father was murdered when Moten was 12.) Moten’s oldest brother, James, “encouraged me to go back to college, but I didn’t have the money.”
By then, Moten was living with best friend Octavius “Ted” Reid, who had just graduated from Rutgers and was starting out as a financial adviser at Morgan Stanley.
“It was the worst time in my life,” Moten says. “I was embarrassed.”
Through Cedrick Brown, an Eagles defensive end, Moten was hired at state-run nonprofit Goals for Youth, which united former pro athletes with at-risk schoolchildren to help them finish their educations.
“I had yet to finish my degree and couldn’t practice what I preached,” Moten says. He enrolled at Rutgers-Camden and earned a degree in psychology. He still wears his 1995 graduation ring, which, he notes, most people mistake for a football ring.
“I was happier that day than the day I got drafted. I did what most players don’t do: I went back,” he says.
Reid’s father encouraged Moten to “readjust my circle of friends. I didn’t have money to hang with those football guys anymore.”
That year, Moten met State Superior Court Judge Isaiah Steinberg. “He was a huge sports fan, and he used to bring inner-city kids into his chambers and his courtroom,” Moten recalls. The judge encouraged Moten to apply at the prosecutor’s office, and “he changed my life.”
Moten was hired as an investigator at $29,000 a year. “I was so grateful. I got to wake up and put on a suit. Had it not been for Judge Steinberg, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
Moten was assigned to the narcotics unit from 1997 to 2000. He spent about a decade in homicide and was promoted to sergeant in 2007, then lieutenant, supervising major crimes and child abuse units. He rose to the rank of deputy chief in 2014. And in 2015, he became chief.
“I rarely watch the professional games. I’m a fan of the game, but I spend more time watching college football,” he says.
He hears “horror stories” about football friends and opponents ending up jobless, homeless, or worse. His old teammate Andre Waters committed suicide in 2006, and others “can barely walk or are paralyzed.”
“My life is a hundred times better since leaving the NFL. I often wonder: ‘Why me? Why did I get a second chance at life?’ ”
“Everything happens for a reason,” he says. Moten now plans to retire – again – this time in 2019 as Chief Moten, with 25 years as a New Jersey state employee.
Asked whether his son will keep playing football, Moten replied: “I would encourage him to play in college, but yes, injuries can happen. And he’ll have to study, too.”
Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20151004_New_Game_Plan.html#5G6zYAipOtJMScCQ.99
“I want my life back,” Christine Cortese says.
She’s been the victim of tax-related identity theft — twice this year.
In April, she and her husband received a suspicious bank card in the mail under his name. After showing the Green Dot prepaid card to their accountant, Cortese called the IRS and discovered someone had fraudulently filed for their joint tax refund. They had been hacked.
“It took months to fix. First, you’re required to file a report of identity theft with the local police department,” she says. Her husband, a cardiologist, got off work at 2 a.m. and drove to the Upper Dublin Township, Pa., police station to do just that.
“They had no idea what we were talking about,” Cortese recalls, noting that local law enforcement jurisdictions are unfamiliar with the flood of paperwork required in an identity-theft case.
She also contacted the IRS’s Identity Protection Specialized Unit (1-800-908-4490), all three credit bureaus, and the state.
Then in early September, Cortese and her husband found out they’d been hacked again – this time through the IRS’s online “Get Transcript” database. They had not accessed the database themselves.
The IRS shut down the database in May. In August, the agency mailed letters to Cortese and her husband and about 390,000 other taxpayers whose 2014 tax information may have been stolen through Get Transcript, an application to obtain prior-year tax returns for purposes such as loans and student financial aid. The couple discovered that their son, a dependent, also may have had his information stolen.
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen has said that since the data breach, about 13,000 questionable returns were filed for tax year 2014, for which the IRS issued refunds totaling about $39 million (an average of $3,000 per return).
Taxpayers were offered by the IRS a year of free credit monitoring, as well as PIN numbers to authenticate their identities.
But Cortese, a chemistry teacher, is still waiting. She and her husband haven’t yet received their PINs from Uncle Sam – nor do they have any idea whether their identities remain compromised.
Cortese is convinced the two hacks are related, but the IRS won’t comment on specific cases, says Jennifer Jenkins, IRS field media-relations representative for Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.
“As it did in May, the IRS is moving aggressively to protect taxpayers whose account information may have been accessed,” the IRS said in a statement.
Cortese’s accountant, David Zalles of Blue Bell, Pa., says the case is mystifying.
“Christine has always maintained her maiden name and her Social Security number, and yet somehow the thief filed what looked like a valid joint return for the couple,” he notes.
What’s even scarier is Cortese and her husband don’t file their returns electronically, and instead do paper filing. She avoids social media such as Facebook and LinkedIn.
“We are under siege. I can’t sleep, I can’t think, and my husband is a different man now,” Cortese says of the stress from the two hacking incidents. “My dream is to face these criminals in court – although they’re probably in Russia or China.”
For now, she just wants the PIN numbers the IRS promised.
Surprisingly, Cortese says, the state was extremely helpful. Cortese contacted the office of Taxpayers’ Rights Advocate in Harrisburg (717-772-9347), and director Marva Patterson explained that cases of identity theft require separate filings: a copy of the local police report; the prior year’s tax returns; a copy of a state driver’s license and passport; and the state’s own affidavit form.
By expanding its online services, the IRS put taxpayer data at greater risk, the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration told Congress in June.
“Providing taxpayers more avenues to obtain answers to their tax questions or to access their own tax records online provides more opportunities for exploitation by hackers and other fraudsters,” J. Russell George, the inspector general, warned in testimony before the Senate Finance Committee.
Hackers overcame a multistep authentication process that required the taxpayer’s Social Security number, date of birth, tax filing status, and home address. They also had to answer what the IRS called “out-of-wallet” authentication questions that only taxpayers would typically know, such as the amount of a monthly home mortgage or car payments.
One update: Until recently, the IRS would not allow victims of identity theft to see the phony returns. But as a result of Congress’ scrutiny, the agency has changed its policy regarding disclosure of fraudulent returns to identity-theft victims.
Still, Cortese says, she “feels helpless and hopeless. As a human being, I’ve taken it all inside.”
Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20150921_A_taxing_case_of_identity_theft.html#0f3B2iHW5B9j7zoZ.99
POSTED: Sunday, September 13, 2015
Over 50 and looking for work? Blake Nations, a former recruiter who lost his job during the financial crisis, launched Over50JobBoard.com this year. It’s a site dedicated to connecting baby boomers with employers seeking older workers.
Nations, 59, has been on both sides of the hunt.
“I worked as a recruiter since 1990. After I was let go, I then worked briefly with a start-up that collapsed,” he says. “Finally, I took an entry-level position with a recruiting firm.”
He had a hard time finding employment and had to supplement his income with little jobs, such as working at a grocery store on weekends.
“I felt a lot of pain. But in the store, I met people who had all kinds of great careers. They were also over 50 and working there, too,” he says. “I realized it’s a struggle all over.”
“Extended unemployment can be a slowly unfolding nightmare,” says Nations. “I experienced it, and that’s why Over50JobBoard is a safe haven for job seekers age 50 and above.” The site has larger print, so applicants can read job postings easily and present work experience without fear of age discrimination, he says. It’s free for employers and applicants.
Unsuccessful job searches can drive baby boomers out of the workforce, imperiling retirement and decreasing chances for reemployment later in life. According to the U.S. Government Displaced Worker Survey, job seekers 50 or older are likely to be unemployed for 5.8 weeks longer than someone between the age of 30 and 49, and 10.6 weeks longer than people between the age of 20 and 29.
“If you’re 55 or 60, you don’t have the kind of outlook that a young person has,” he says. “You start to feel hopeless. There’s a lot of emotional ties with this transition time.”
Start out, Nations suggests, by volunteering and seeking part-time work related to a favorite pursuit or hobby. Both can lead to full-time work.
“If you’re a wine snob, look for work in a local wine store or café. If you worked as a plumber for 30 years but can’t physically do that job anymore, pursue sales at Home Depot or Lowe’s,” he says.
“People over 50 tend to lay back and expect jobs to come to them. That’s just not true.”
What goes unsaid
Generic job boards such as Monster.com and CareerBuilder “don’t make it clear that they’re open to hiring people over 50,” Nations says. Ageism in employment ads can be subtle. He reads between the lines.
“Recruiters post jobs saying they’re looking for someone with five to 15 years of experience. What that really means is someone between 25 and 40 years of age. That’s the legal way they define who they’re looking for. It’s what they don’t say that’s key.”
So it’s important to put other networks into action, he says: Call old friends and colleagues and let people know that you’re looking for work.
“People over 50, when they get laid off, it’s a real issue for them. They’re embarrassed. . . . They keep it quiet. That’s usually not the best thing to do.” Nations suggests MeetUp.com groups, churches and synagogues as excellent networking places.
Smaller companies may offer bigger potential for the older job hunter – a “really good area to work with,” Nations says. “They value your experience more than large corporations.”
Hiring is picking up among small businesses, says William Dunkelberg, chief economist with the National Federation of Independent Business.
On balance, Dunkelberg says, small-business owners added a net 0.13 workers per firm in recent months. Eighteen percent reported increasing employment at an average of 3.0 workers per firm.
Nations says his father was let go from a job at 63, “and my uncle was a fireman and painted houses. My dad joined him and did that for 10 years.”
His father then worked for a local Walmart for 10 years before retiring at 82.
Manage location expectations, Nations says. Larger cities allow career continuity, while smaller, suburban job markets may offer less opportunity. Job seekers over 50 should broaden their geographic perspective and be open to job prospects that could come about in other cities.
Avoid dressing “old” when you interview. Update your wardrobe with conservative-yet-contemporary clothing.
Never hide behind email. Get out and meet with connectors and discover opportunities before they open up to everyone else.
“If you don’t hear back via email, proceed with other options. It’s always helpful if you send in your information and then pursue it again with a phone call or visit [to] the location.”
Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20150913_Help_Getting_a_Job.html#T7hF0VQWlQGI2qXB.99
Prayers are flying fast and thick for Vitaly Korchevsky, the pastor of Slavic Evangelical Baptist Church in Brookhaven, Delaware County, indicted Tuesday in what is being called a $100 million cyber-hacking scheme to commit securities fraud.
The 50-year-old preacher from Glen Mills leads a small but extremely loyal congregation, many of whom refuse to believe the charges. Church members and friends in the Slavic community have created a Facebook page, “Pray for Vitaly Korchevsky and Family,” filled with words of support in Russian and English and Bible verses.
“Vitaly is the best preacher,” Pavel Pavlenko wrote in a post. “Innocent!” posted another supporter.
Ruvim Lypyak, a contractor and the owner of Master Home Renewal in Swarthmore, said in an interview: “He’s a good pastor, I know he’s good. I just pray for him.”
On Wednesday, Korchevsky, who also worked as a money manager and financial adviser, was being held at the Federal Detention Center in Center City, according to his lawyer, Steven Gary Brill. A federal judge in New York stayed a local federal judge’s Tuesday decision to release Korchevsky on a $100,000 recognizance bond.
Brill said a hearing was likely to be held in the next few days.
Korchevsky is one of a group of stock traders and others, all Ukrainian and Russian émigrés, who are facing sweeping insider-trading charges in a case that involves a ring of hackers, several nations, and shell companies laundering alleged profits of $100 million.
His net take from the profits was $17 million, U.S. government lawyers said Tuesday.
Local congregants of his Slavic Evangelical Baptist Church were stunned to learn of the charges against Korchevsky, known as a generous leader in the Russian- and Ukrainian-language community. He has traveled extensively to preach to Baptist congregations around the country and even has his own YouTube channel.
“Nobody saw signs of this among people I’ve tal”ked to, Kirill Chernikov, an employee at Home Trimwork in Huntingdon Valley and a Ukrainian émigré to Philadelphia, said in an interview Wednesday. “Everyone in the church is in a huge shock about it. He’s a very good person. He helped families who just moved here settle in, helping them in any way.”
The church sponsored missionaries to countries such as Kazakhstan, Ukraine, and Mexico. “They bring food, gifts, and especially to children. And with the gifts they also bring spiritual assistance, tell people about God,” Chernikov said.
He recalled that his father had taken time off from work to help build the church. Delaware County real estate records show the church property at 415 Edwards Dr. in Brookhaven was purchased in 2007 for $500,000.
Korchevsky was born in Kazakhstan and moved around what was then the Soviet Union. In 1989, he immigrated to the United States and married in 1990. His wife is listed as Svetlana Korchevsky; congregants said the couple have two children.
In 1981, he embraced the evangelical Baptist faith. Since 2000, he has been chairman of the Association of Slavic Baptist Churches USA.
Korchevsky also is known in the émigré community through the financial-planning advice for families he offered in a series of Russian-language YouTube videos.
He has a legitimate background in the investment field and started his own hedge fund, NTS Capital Fund, in 2009. But according to the criminal and civil indictments filed by the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission, NTS Capital was a vehicle for illegal stock transactions carried out by a half-dozen traders with the help of some computer hackers.
The indictments allege that Korchevsky and the others bought and sold shares of public companies based on advance financial information hacked from several press-release services widely known in business circles.
The insider-trading strategy was so successful, the indictments allege, that Korchevsky and a co-conspirator began recruiting hackers online to expand the operation.
The two men exchanged emails in January 2013, discussing a “proprietary trading business” that “never lost money in the twelve months of 2012,” with profits of between $40,000 and $50,000 a month.
“Public companies report four times a year, and the stocks react sometimes dramatically. All that news has to come out at the same time for there to be a level playing field,” said James Nolen, senior vice president of equity trading for Drexel Hamilton brokerage in Center City.
“If someone gets a hold of it beforehand, that’s insider trading,” Nolen said.
A referral four years ago from the SEC about unusual trading patterns culminated in an investigation by agencies including the Department of Homeland Security, the attorneys general of New York and New Jersey, the Department of Justice, and the SEC.
A concurrent SEC complaint alleges that Korchevsky used proceeds to buy real estate in Southeastern Pennsylvania, including houses at 1591 Meadow Lane, 3 Skyline Dr. and 7 Skyline Dr. in Glen Mills; 9 Blackhorse Lane in Media; 316 Willowbrook Rd. in Upper Chichester; and 674 Cheyney Rd. and 1290 Samuel Rd. in West Chester.
The complaint says he also purchased a shopping center at 122-134 Lancaster Ave., Malvern, and a property at 1801 E. Kings Highway in Coatesville. In some cases, the owner was listed as a corporation called Bayview One Trust.
Ken Marcellus, of Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox & Roach Realtors in Newtown Square, acted as broker on the Korchevskys’ 2002 purchase of the Glen Mills house that served as headquarters for Vitaly Korchevsky’s hedge fund.
“At the time, he was working in finance in New York, so he was commuting. I knew he was a minister at his local church. And they were very nice people,” Marcellus said.
In addition to working for firms such as Morgan Stanley in New York, Korchevsky achieved in 1998 what is known as the gold standard in his field, the chartered financial analyst designation, which requires years of exams and financial analysis.
A spokeswoman for the CFA Institute in New York would not say whether his designation was still active.
Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20150813_Prayers_for__and_questions_about__pastor_indicted_in_stock-trading_scheme.html#DlFzD0xxfbYZbd0E.99
Q: How did you first become interested in the story behind LIBOR?
A: The rigging of interest rates sounded so fantastical, I couldn’t believe it was happening on such a wide scale. Could $300 trillion worth of securities really be pegged to one obscure interest rate? Then in 2012, I read about how Barclays was the first to admit that its traders were manipulating the London rate, and I wanted to understand how it affected consumers around the world. What an eye-opener… like discovering the equator had been measured at the wrong latitude.
Q: How long did it take to research and write the book? How many interviews did you need to conduct? Was it difficult to win over the trust of the people you are writing about?
A: From start to finish, the book required two years of research and writing, nearly a hundred interviews and reading tens of thousands of pages of U.S. and U.K. government documents and witness testimony. Many of the lawyers suing on behalf of cities and mortgage holders were extremely helpful; the traders were very difficult to talk to, since they implicated their bosses in some cases.
Q: What were the most surprising things you learned during your research and writing?
A: I was surprised how young and low-ranking were the traders now on trial, and how these young men and women were so quickly sacrificed by the top brass. In the cases of Barclays, UBS, Rabobank and Deutsche Bank, the CEOs argue ignorance of what was going on in the rank-and-file, when in fact, they tolerated or even encouraged the rigging of interest rates if it was bringing in revenue. (See especially UBS and Deutsche Bank). The tiny Dutch firm Rabobank was among the worst offenders. In the case of Lloyds, they’ve suspended a young woman on the money-market desk. Can we honestly believe this was the work of one person?
Another surprise? Traders were rigging the interest rate both upwards and down – depending on whom they owed favors. In some cases, their hedge fund clients were asking them to!
Finally, I was shocked at how chummy the Bank of England, the Federal Reserve and the heads of the big banks were – and are. Who is regulating whom?
Q: How does this affect the average person? Why should we care that LIBOR is used instead of a different number?
A: Have you borrowed money for college? Most student loans are pegged to LIBOR, so in prior years you were likely paying a rigged interest rate. Did you pay too much or too little every month?
LIBOR rates are the most common benchmarks for U.S. adjustable-rate mortgages, including Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and mutual funds. Did you pay an extra $100 a month on your home payment or did you earn too little on your money market fund?
And cities like Philadelphia, Oakland and Houston hedge their municipal bonds and other borrowings with interest rate bets; in many cases the banks rigged the LIBOR rate to ensure these towns and other borrowers weren’t paid enough on their hedges.
Q: What is the U.S. government trying to do about LIBOR? What about other nations—are their governments getting involved as well?
A: The CFTC chairman Gary Gensler tried exceedingly hard to fix the LIBOR, crisscrossing the globe to plead his case for fixing LIBOR – changing from a survey rate with no real transactions, to something that was true and transparent. He angered so many people in Washington and Wall Street that President Obama didn’t re-nominate Gensler for a second term. The City of London has lost oversight of LIBOR to the owners of the New York Stock Exchange, an outfit known as ICE, run by Jeff Sprecher.
Q: The first person involved in the LIBOR scandal was just sentenced — Tom Hayes. What is the significance of Hayes and his 14-year sentence this week?
A: Hayes was super successful – and made a lot of money personally and for his employers – by rigging interest rates. But he’s really just the first one to get caught. British regulators made an example out of him, but he’s far too clever to take the fall alone. Hayes testified that the LIBOR rate rigging goes much higher than any one bank’s trading desk – much higher up in the executive suite. His 14 year sentence will likely be reduced. I’m waiting for C-suite executives at the banks to be indicted. In my dreams!
Q: What should be the lesson that the world takes away from the LIBOR scandal?
A: About a dozen Wall Street and City of London firms have been fined $12 billion for rigging LIBOR and related rates. But I don’t think it will change the way they do business with clients. The lesson is: banks work for their own bottom line, not for the customer.
And, oh yeah, the book, “Open Secret”:
ERIN E. ARVEDLUND, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
POSTED: Monday, July 27, 2015
Donald Trump disclosed his financials last week, and Americans now know what the Republican presidential hopeful/celebrity mogul holds in his stock portfolios.
Are they good investments?
Professional investors opined on Trump’s holdings, most of which are blue-chip companies found in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index. His total investments are worth at least $78 million, according to his Federal Election Commission filings. That’s spread over brokerage accounts with Barclays, JPMorgan, and Oppenheimer, and two with Deutsche Bank.
“Confused, messy. Not well organized,” Daniel Wiener, an expert in low-cost Vanguard mutual funds, says after viewing Trump’s holdings. “With so many broker accounts, he’s overpaying in fees.”
The Donald’s major equity holdings show nearly 100 big-name blue chips: AT&T, Apple, GE, Conoco Phillips, Verizon, Wal-Mart, Bristol Myers Squibb, Altria, JPMorgan Chase, Caterpillar, and Morgan Stanley, to name a few. Many throw off dividends as income.
“It’s vanilla. It’s bland, very liquid. It’s not speculative at all,” says James Nolen, senior vice president of equity trading at Drexel Hamilton in Center City.
As is true of many One Percenters, Trump’s biggest single investment is in a hedge fund: BlackRock’s Obsidian fixed-income fund, disclosed at between $25 million and $50 million. Obsidian has returned roughly 11 percent annually since its inception in 1996.
Trump also has invested $1 million to $5 million in two Angelo, Gordon & Co. hedge funds (AG Diversified Credit Strategies and AG Eleven Partners), three funds run by John Paulson (Paulson Partners, Paulson Advantage Plus, and Credit Opportunities), and MidOcean Credit Opportunities Fund.
He invested up to $5 million in Baron mutual funds (Baron Small Cap, Baron Focused Growth, Baron Real Estate, Baron Growth, and Baron Partners.)
Trump also maintains $5 million to $25 million in his Capital One checking and savings accounts, an additional $1 million to $5 million in a JPMorgan Chase account, and $1 million in a money-market account at Deutsche Bank.
In commodities, Trump owns $100,000 to $250,000 in physical gold and a $100,000-to-$250,000 position in the GAMCO Global Gold Natural Resources & Income Trust.
“There’s no rhyme or reason as to how these different accounts are invested,” Wiener says.
For instance, Trump’s JPMorgan account sold Apple for a capital gain of between $1 million and $5 million. But he still holds Apple in his Oppenheimer and Deutsche accounts.
“He’s set up on the dividend side. The stocks pay income to own them long term,” says Nolen. High dividend payers include AT&T, with a 5.3 percent dividend yield, and Verizon, which yields 4.7 percent.
And although Comcast cut its broadcast ties to Trump for his comments about Mexican immigrants, he still owns Comcast shares worth about $500,000.
What strikes investment advisers most is that Trump’s real interest is building his licensing and brand name – and a presidential run adds serious juice to that value.
Nolen is convinced that Trump has no interest in being president but rather in selling himself.
Explains Nolen: “He’s talking his own book.”
Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20150727_What_the_experts_say_about_Trump_s_stock_portfolios.html#Sv0Tyywye0o2HzHi.99
How to do basic due diligence on your broker
ERIN E. ARVEDLUND, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
POSTED: Monday, July 13, 2015
How can we investigate whether our Wall Street broker is a bad actor before we lose money?
Let’s take the case of Malcolm Segal. The Bucks County man was charged last week with swindling people out of $1.8 million through an investment scam that promised unusually high rates of return, according to the federal indictmentagainst him in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia.
What could investors have found on Segal before giving him money?
A quick review of the BrokerCheck.org database, maintained by the FINRA securities regulator, reveals customer complaints dating back years.
Do some basic due diligence on your broker via BrokerCheck (brokercheck.finra.org) and via the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Investment Adviser Search, another database (www.adviserinfo.sec.gov).
Type in his or her name or firm. Pay close attention to “Disclosures” outlining disciplinary history.
“When you see something like Segal’s background,” said Kathleen McBride, founder of FiduciaryPath in New York City, “to me it indicates it’s a pattern with his previous and current firm. If you see disclosure events like that, proceed with extreme caution.”
Red Flag No. 2: Returns that are too good to be true.
Segal claimed the CDs he sold paid up to a 12 percent annual interest rate for a two-year investment of $100,000. Instead, Segal allegedly spent the money to pay off earlier investors in what authorities say was a $15 million Ponzi scheme.
“With an average CD rate of under 1 percent, someone who is offering a CD at a guaranteed rate of 12 percent is offering a product that is too good to be true,” Louis D. Lappen, the first assistant U.S. attorney in Philadelphia, said in a statement.
“Why buy CDs from a broker and pay a commission, when you can buy them from a bank directly?” McBride said. “Something didn’t smell right about the high returns.”
Red Flag No. 3: Wall Street firms sometimes hire tainted brokers, who scuttle from one brokerage to another despite disciplinary records with FINRA.
BrokerCheck and the SEC’s investment adviser database have a wealth of information about the firms employing shady brokers. Despite his record, Segal kept finding new jobs.
“Segal and others remain in business because someone will hire them, as long as the regulators don’t suspend or revoke hislicense,” said Philadelphia securities lawyer Nick Guiliano, who sues brokers and brokerage firms on behalf of aggrieved investors.
Guiliano and his law firm are investigating whether Segal engaged in unauthorized sales of certificates of deposit to Aegis customers.
“Aegis has a duty to supervise him and is responsible for his conduct,” Guiliano said. “Segal actually disclosed that he was president of J&M Financial and partner of a company called National CD Sales. That should have raised a red flag to Aegis as an outside business activity. Aegis was supposed to come to Langhorne and do an audit.”
Guiliano has sued Aegis before on behalf of other investors.
One area broker Guiliano is suing had seven complaints against him with regulator FINRA and had been fired from two firms, while another broker had outstanding tax liens and had bounced several checks over the years.
Nicholas C. Harbist, Segal’s onetime lawyer from the Center City law office of Blank Rome, said he hasn’t entered an appearance as Segal’s defense lawyer in this case. Segal did not return calls seeking comment. A trial date for Segal is set for Sept. 9 in federal court in Philadelphia.
Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20150713_How_to_do_basic_due_diligence_on_your_broker.html#vT8uf3bQjFq5CUbA.99
ERIN E. ARVEDLUND, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
POSTED: Sunday, July 5, 2015
Close to retirement and ready to date again?
First, listen to Barbara Sluppick’s tale.
She logged into her online-dating account and up popped an instant message. Head over heels in love, a man had written: “I saw your profile, I knew you were the one angels sent me!”
He was British and lived in Arizona.
“We chatted online for about three weeks,” she recalls. He phoned, begging to visit, but couldn’t access his British bank account. Could she help him?
“As soon as I heard his voice, I knew he wasn’t British. He was Nigerian.” Sluppick recognized the accent from one of her Nigeria-born friends at work.
“You’re not who you said you are,” she snapped.
Sluppick, a grandmother, had been romance-scammed.
As baby boomers and retirees venture online to date, they’re falling in love with frauds in record numbers.
Romance scammers specifically target Americans age 50 and up and robbed them of an estimated $82 million in the last half of 2014 alone. Most dating fraudsters operate from Russia, Malaysia, and Africa.
It’s gotten so bad that senior lobbying group AARP wants online dating sites to install stronger antifraud measures, circulating a petition among its members (https://action.aarp.org).
AARP members even complain about scam artists on AARP’s partner dating site, called HowAboutWe.com. (Many dating sites take little legal responsibility for policing scammers.)
Sluppick, who lives in Rockaway Beach, Mo., created a website, RomanceScams.org, to counsel the defrauded. A decade later, she and her volunteers can barely keep up with victims from all around the United States.
Sometimes, the family of those scammed online ask her to intervene and exposer the fraudster.
“And the smarter the victim,” she notes, “the harder it is to convince them they’re being scammed.”
The average loss: $100,000.
Algorithmic relief. AARP wants online dating sites to screen photos for facial recognition; scrub subscribers for suspicious multiple accounts, bizarre language, and fake profiles; and issue alerts to those contacted by someone using a fraudulent profile.
Currently, Zoosk.com offers photo verification for its dating site.
To protect yourself, do a little online stalking of your own. Download your date’s picture, then paste it into Google’s “search by image” to see if that person’s photo shows up in other places under a different name. That’s a sign of a scam artist.
So is bad spelling. Paste a potential suitor’s love notes online to see if the words pop up elsewhere or on romance-scam sites.
Women and men. The FBI ranked romance scams among the nation’s top frauds in 2014. The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) says women suffer 82 percent of the financial losses; males, the remaining 18 percent.
Among top states for victim losses, Pennsylvania ranked fifth in the nation; New Jersey was No. 8. (No.1 was California.)
In Pennsylvania, men and women 60 years and older lost $3.4 million and $3.2 million, respectively, last year.
Not in uniform. Dating a soldier stationed overseas? Be advised: Real military personnel don’t use Western Union or Money Gram. All military have direct deposit to Stateside banks, too.
“Stop sending money to persons on the Internet who claim to be in the U.S. military,” said Chris Grey, an Army Criminal Investigation Command spokesman.
“It is heartbreaking to hear stories of people who have sent thousands of dollars to someone they have never met and sometimes have never even spoken to on the phone,” he says.
Grey maintains a database of fake military documents that romance scammers use to trick victims (www.cid.army.mil/romancescam.html). Military Romance Scams has a useful Facebook page where you can ask questions about servicemen and -women you are matched with online.
Don’t give out your last name, address, or where you work until long after you’ve met your date, says Amy Nofziger, director of AARP’s Fraud Watch Network.
Turn off your phone’s location settings so no one can see where you are. And be cautious of people who claim the romance was destiny or fate, or that if you don’t send money or help, you don’t love them.
Post-scam. Sluppick supports victims of romance scams, helping them heal from their experience and educate the public. Entirely run by volunteers, her support group (groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/romancescams/info) has more than 60,000 members.
If you’ve been scammed, report your losses to local police, the Internet Crime Complaint Center (www.ic3.gov), or the Federal Trade Commission online (www.ftc.gov/idtheft) or by phone (1-877-438-4338) or TTY (1-866-653-4261).
Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20150705_Untrue_Love.html#Y6TgiWmurBGId32r.99
Investors: stay away from Puerto Rican municipal bonds
ERIN E. ARVEDLUND, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
POSTED: Wednesday, July 1, 2015, 1:08 AM
Unless you’re a professional investor, avoid Puerto Rico’s municipal bonds, financial planners advise. Otherwise, you could face a protracted default process rivaling Greece’s.
Already, investors have withdrawn hundreds of millions of dollars from mutual funds holding Puerto Rican munis, according to Lipper Inc., a unit of Thomson Reuters, citing the first five months of 2015.
And that was before Monday, when Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla admitted that the commonwealth can’t repay more than $70 billion in debt.
“Governor Padilla reversed himself from earlier commitments” to make good on bond payments, says local money manager David Kotok, of Cumberland Advisors in Vineland, who holds some Puerto Rico bonds.
“Did Padilla take notes from watching his colleagues in Greece six thousand miles away?” Kotok asks. “It’s a question without an answer.”
For retail investors, it’s a danger zone.
“I have five analysts working on this. It’s easier for us to understand what’s going on, but retail investors should avoid this,” Kotok says.
Jonathan Smith, of DT Investment Partners in Chadds Ford, agrees. “If you need to live off of your assets, avoid mutual funds with Puerto Rico bonds in them,” he says.
If you already own them, “get out now and quickly,” advises Smith, whose firm oversees $1 billion in assets.
Latino business and political leaders here contend that the brain drain of thousands of Puerto Ricans, many of them young people, contributed to its problems. Opportunities are greater in cities on the mainland.
About four million Puerto Ricans live in the continental United States. And 50 percent of the growth in Latinos in the Philadelphia region came as Puerto Ricans moved here in the last 10 years, says former City Councilman Angel Ortiz.
But Padilla’s threat to default doesn’t help the island’s underlying economy.
“Puerto Rico is now a fully owned subsidiary of Wall Street,” Ortiz says.
“I’m terribly concerned,” says Philadelphia physician Carmen Febo. “I have a sister that has been having issues finding employment. With this crisis, who knows how this will affect interest rates and savings. It’s horrible.”
Born in Puerto Rico, Febo moved here in the 1970s for her residency at Hahnemann Hospital and is now executive director of Taller Puertorriqueno, an arts organization in North Philadelphia.
“Unlike [with] Detroit and Chicago, the White House wants to be Pontius Pilate and wash their hands of this mess,” she says.
Philadelphia’s boom in Latino immigrants has, however, helped the local economy.
In its first “State of Latino Business in the Philadelphia Region” report, the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Temple University’s Fox School of Business found that the number of Hispanic-owned businesses had grown 28 percent, to 18,787, in less than a decade.
These businesses are located across 11 counties in the region, according to Varsovia Fernandez, head of the Chamber.
Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20150701_Investors__stay_away_from_Puerto_Rican_municipal_bonds.html#4K66M8teFxVGVJDY.99
Their retirement dream has them caring for 5 adopted kids.
Erin E. Arvedlund, Inquirer Staff Writer
John and Jane Thomas plan to retire in a few years. He’s a state prison warden; she’s a chaplain.
Their retirement plan? Raising five adopted children. The youngest is currently 7 years old.
Most baby boomers and soon-to-be retirees dream of escaping the rat race at work and pushing adult children out of the nest, then maybe hitting the road or golfing nonstop.
Not the Thomases.
The couple – John is 55, Jane is 53 – have a flock of adopted foster children.
Isaiah, 21, Alaina, 20, and Jonathan, 16, joined the Thomas family in 2006.
“They were considered ‘special needs’ in the foster system because they were siblings,” John Thomas recalls.
In 2012, Dontae came to live with the Thomas family and is now heavily involved in track and football.
Jordan was adopted the day he was born. Diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, he’s now 7.
“Yeah, I’m 55, and I have a first grader!” John Thomas says, laughing.
The superintendent of the State Correctional Institution-Chester, in Delaware County, John didn’t have children from his first marriage.
But “I always had been in giveback mode. I believe in mentoring young men and thought, ‘What’s a way that I can do permanent mentoring?’ ”
Jane Thomas has adult children from her previous marriage. After she and John wed in 2009, he was game to adopt, but she laid down some conditions: “If you want kids, you have to scale back on travel” and board membership with the National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice.
The bigger picture
Many teenagers were aging out of foster care and “ending up in my criminal justice system,” John says. “Even 21-year-olds want to be adopted. They still want a family to call their own. In college on Christmas break, they want to go somewhere. They want to call someone to take pictures at their prom and be proud of them.”
Financially, the Thomases’ “Brady Bunch” family makes little sense.
Jane and John will live on his state pension once he retires in a few years. Jane returned to work full time about six months ago.
Paying for college won’t be as burdensome because two children adopted as teenagers can claim themselves as independents.
“That’s a nice benefit. When they put in for financial aid, they don’t claim my income,” John says.
But the Thomases have expenses – including a $500-a-week food bill.
So why do this?
“We are put here for things we can’t take with us. To care for each other. When you’re retiring, you have nothing but time. What a way to invest in the life of another who’s never had a mom or dad,” he says.
“Most of my peers are wondering, ‘Will my 401(k) last? Will I have enough money in retirement? When can I start gallivanting around?’ We won’t live a life of luxury. We’ll have enough.”
The Thomases encourage other retirees to think about adopting.
“We are not perfect parents,” he says. “They don’t exist. Kids don’t need perfect parents, just unselfish people.”
The age of potential adoptive parents has risen.
“Society is different today, with 60 being the new 40,” says Gloria Hochman, spokeswoman for the National Adoption Center in Center City. “Now, it’s not unusual that we hear from someone 55 years old or older who wants to adopt.”
Eligible children have grown older, too. Adoption used to be associated primarily with babies.
“But most of our children are over age 10, and many are teenagers or even 20 years old. They still want a family,” says Hochman.
“Older people are wonderful candidates for older children,” she says. “It makes a lot of sense for someone in their 50s or 60s to have a child that age.”
There’s no age limit to adopt older children, says Kathleen Creamer, supervising attorney at the Family Advocacy Unit, Community Legal Services in Center City.
“At 85 you can adopt, as long as you are healthy enough and able to care for the kids.”
She refers interested seniors to the website http://adoptpakids.org.
A wider view
Some people take in children through what’s known as “kinship” care.
In Pennsylvania, the state must first look for extended family of potential foster children, says Bucks County Court Judge Robert J. Mellon, who adjudicates foster cases.
But non-blood relatives, caregivers deeply involved in a child’s life – a babysitter, a best friend’s parents, a teacher – also can become a child’s guardian.
“You can be someone the child has a relationship with and still be considered under kinship,” says Mellon. “It’s an expansive definition of family.”
Erin E. Arvedlund
Inquirer Staff Writer
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Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20150628_Family_401_k_.html#tuebWF2fE8fHjkMo.99