Over a five year span, former Hoover, Alabama financial broker Bryan Anderson found eighteen people to invest $8.4 million in a number of investments and guaranteed that the investments were completely risk free. Roughly two thirds of those investors watched Anderson at the federal courthouse in downtown Birmingham plead guilty to operating a Ponzi scheme that lost them $3.1 million. Anderson pleaded guilty to wire fraud, money laundering, and securities fraud before U.S. District Judge Virginia Emerson Hopkins. He will be sentenced on June 16.
According to the plea deal with the U.S. Attorney's Office, Anderson will pay restitution of almost $3.1 million to investors and surrender an extra $3.4 million to the federal government. The prosecutors agreed to recommend a sentence at the low-end of the spectrum.
Richard Frankowski, who is representing the investors in their FINRA arbitration suits against Anderson, stated that the majority of the twelve investors identified as victims were at the courthouse for the plea. Frankowski said, "Many of the investors we represent were financially devastated by the activities of Anderson and we believe the lack of supervision at MetLife and Pruco."
From January 2009 to January 2014, Anderson allegedly made false representations and promises that caused about 18 individual and family investors to give him more than $8.4 million. He then deposited the money into an account he and his wife held at BancorpSouth, a bank based in Tupelo, Mississippi. After the investment scheme collapsed in May 2014, about 12 investors had lost almost $3.1 million, and one investor alone lost nearly $1.1 million.
According to prosecutors, Anderson solicited investors to invest in stock options that he claimed utilized a number of trading strategies. However, the stock options he discussed were not registered securities, and Anderson was not authorized to solicit investor money for the funds. Additionally, Anderson offered investments in 360 Properties, a company he owned, telling investors their returns would come from leased property income. Yet, no such leased properties existed. A number of investors believed that these investments were affiliated with MetLife, and Anderson took no action to correct these untrue beliefs.
Anderson's scheme began to unravel in early 2014. According to his plea deal, "As the scheme began to fall apart, Anderson repeatedly missed deadlines to pay investors. He made up stories and gave explanations which he knew were not true about why he had not been able to pay their money in order to lull them into not taking legal action."
The investigation of Anderson was performed by the Alabama Securities Commission, Hoover Police Department, FBI, and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Alabama.