Pennsylvania Man Sentenced for $1.5M Ponzi Scheme
A former Williamsport insurance agent, William E. Hocker, was sentenced to 17 years in prison and required to pay back almost $1.5 million which he took from unsuspecting investors, including his own mother.
In October, Hocker pleaded guilty to securities fraud involving the scheme he perpetrated for 10 years. Hocker, who was licensed to sell insurance products but not annuities or securities, preyed mostly on family, friends, and the connections they brought to him. In the classic “too good to be true pitch,” Hocker lured investors in by promising them incredibly high returns of 25-30% with little to no risk.
More often than not, trusting this small-town insurance agent, these small town people lost their hard-earned savings.
What These Investors Might Have Done to Protect Themselves
If the investors that lost money to Hocker’s Ponzi Scheme had only done a rudimentary background check on Hocker, they might have realized that he was not licensed to sell securities products, only insurance. Simply by running a BrokerCheck using FINRA’s database or a check on whether Hocker was registered with the SEC might have saved these unfortunate investors hundreds of thousands of dollars. The information that Hocker was not licensed to be doing what he was doing was only a few clicks away.
Common Signs of a Ponzi Scheme
Once you're inside a Ponzi Scheme, it can look and feel a lot like a normal investment opportunity, especially if the scheme operator is adept at creating false investment documentation. The key is not to get draw into a Ponzi Scheme in the first place. The most common signs of these frauds are evident from the beginning - that's when you have the greatest chance of identifying them.
Inflated investment returns
Guaranteed investment returns
Tax-free investment returns
Vagueness about the actual investments
Overly simplified investment documentation - or none at all
Lack of true expertise or history in sophisticated investing
Pennsylvania & New Jersey Ponzi Scheme Lawyers
If you or someone you know has been the victim of investment fraud or a Ponzi Scheme, contact our attorneys immediately for a free consultation toll-free at 215 462 3330 or by using our online contact form.