The US Department of Justice announced on April 23, 2019 that it has arrested Raleigh, North Carolina’s Furman Ford, who has been charged with 11 counts each of wire fraud and mail fraud in the Eastern District of North Carolina.
According to the Department of Justice, Mr. Ford engaged in a scheme from August to December 2014 in which he “committed Mail Fraud and Wire Fraud based on the defendant’s scheme to submit fraudulent withdrawal letters on behalf of an elderly victim to New York Life Insurance (NYL) for payments totaling $246,000.” At the time, he was employed as a financial adviser at New York Life Insurance.
The charges against Mr. Ford note that his alleged victim in 2009 inherited property, valued at $1.3 million, from a relative in North Carolina. Mr. Ford allegedly helped this person establish a charitable trust via New York Life Insurance using the proceeds of the inheritance, and this trust allegedly provided the victim with an annuity of $6,000 per month. The charges state that Mr. Ford’s responsibilities as agent included the drafting and submission of authorized letters of withdrawal from the victim’s account to cover expenses. The charges note that firm guidelines require agents to “have the client sign the letter with ‘wet ink’ before submitting” the letters to New York Life Insurance, after which the funds in question would be wired to their recipients “as directed by the client with their full knowledge and consent.”
However, according to the charges, investigators found “eleven separate fraudulent letters of withdraw drafted by Ford” which he submitted to firm headquarters for fund requests as low as $5,000 and as high as $45,000, ultimately totaling $246,000. The charges state that these funds were transferred by wire to the alleged victim’s checking account in breach of firm policies. According to the charge, “Agents believe the defendant ‘cut and paste’ the victim’s signature from a legitimate letter before making a copy and sending it to NYL on some of the fraudulent letters and on the remaining letters, her signature had been forged.” The charges state that the signatures seem to be the same individual’s, “presumably [Mr.] Ford.’s.”
Furman Ford is a former registered representative who worked for at least 12 years in the securities industry; his most recent employment was from 2007 until 2015, with NYLife Securities in Raleigh, North Carolina. His previous registrations include World Equity Group in Durham, North Carolina (2006-2007); BrokersXPress in Chicago, Illinois; Walnut Street Securities in El Segundo, California; MetLife Securities in Springfield, Massachusetts; Metropolitan Life Insurance Company in New York, New York; and the Stuart-James Company. If he is convicted on all of the charges against him, which the Department of Justice emphasizes are just accusations, he would face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, a fine of $250,000, supervised release not exceeding three years, and restitution payments.