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Consumer Alerts: Recession Proof

<div>A scam artist is behind bars after swindling nearly a million dollars out of susceptible investors.</div><div>He devised an elaborate scheme and even appeared on TV as an investment "expert". He preyed on the most vulnerable victims.</div>

A scam artist is behind bars after swindling nearly a million dollars out of susceptible investors.
He devised an elaborate scheme and even appeared on TV as an investment "expert". He preyed on the most vulnerable victims.

Barbara, a fraud victim, said, "I felt guilty. I felt ashamed, I felt angry. I felt embarrassed"

A mixture of emotions for barbara after losing more than $90,000 in an investment scheme.
 
"We received a mass mailing postcard in the mail from a gentleman who wanted to know if we were happy with our retirement plan," said Barbara

The flyer said, "Helping you avoid IRA distribution mistakes." The company slogan?  "We haven't lost a dime in the recession - want to know how?"

Barbara's husband, who was in failing health, decided to meet with Casey Charles. Charles appeared on a local money management TV program.

"This was a time when stocks were down and most people were unhappy with what they had, so he just wanted to see what someone else might suggest," Barbara said.
 
Barbara and her husband decided to invest with Charles. A short time later her husband passed away.
 
Barbara said, "I am responsible for my own problems but I really was not capable of making good decisions at that point."
 
Charles claimed to be investing Barbara's money and sent fictitous promissary notes to her as proof. The reality?
 
Frank Schissler, US Postal Inspector said, "He never made any investments on behalf of the investors; he just used their money for his own personal expenses."

Postal inspectors say Charles scammed more than 22 people - including Barbara. Total loss: almost $900,000.

"To think of someone coming into someone's home while there husband is in a wheelchair dying and knowing you're going to take money from them, it's despicable," said Schissler.
 
"They don't seem to care or think about what they are doing to other people. It is almost as bad as holding someone up with a gun. They got their money however they got it," Barbara said.

Casey Charles pleaded guilty to mail fraud and was sentenced July of 2013 to three and a half years in federal prison and has been ordered to pay restitution. He will begin serving his sentence in September.

Postal inspectors say Charles targeted retirees. Some advice: research anyone who claims to be a financial adviser. An easy place to start is the Better Business Bureau that tracks consumer complaints.

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