Another unfortunate story of multimillionaire athletes and dishonest “financial advisors” has come to light.
According to a variety of outlets, including the sports-oriented news site Deadspin, a woman who was apparently pretending to be a financial advisor so that she could steal from a number of professional athletes, to include retired NFL star and former Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams, was arrested in New Orleans on Friday. Peggy Ann Fulford has been charged by authorities with wire fraud, mail fraud, interstate transportation of stolen property, and money laundering.
It is alleged that Fulford lied to Williams and other athletes about her credentials and experience to gain their trust, representing herself as a money manager with a Harvard education who had herself made a fortune on Wall Street. Apparently, none of that is true.
Through her self-misrepresentations, Fulford was able to reach the inner circles of her well-heeled clients, and came to have direct access to their bank accounts which she then allegedly pilfered for her own personal use.
What happened to Williams and the other victims presents an opportunity to learn from the misfortune of others, sad as that is to say. While professional athletes tend to travel in more rarified air than do the rest of us, there are still some good ways to protect yourself against scammers masquerading as financial advisors, regardless of in what sort of atmosphere you persist. Chief among them is to avail yourself of the online tools that allow you to quickly and easily check to see if the person on whom you’re thinking of relying for financial advice is legitimate. The two biggest and best of these “helps” are the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s BrokerCheck, and the Security and Exchange Commission’s Investment Adviser Public Disclosure website.
Mind you, these mechanisms won’t tell you if a broker, advisor, or financial services firm is particularly good at what they do – that’s a different matter. However, you will be able to find out if they are appropriately registered to do business (for example, if the name doesn’t come up anywhere, that’s a big red flag), as well as examine important background information, to include any regulatory trouble they may have had. Vetting prospective advisors in this way should at least help you to confirm their legitimacy as financial professionals.
The information contained here is for general information purposes only. The Financial Writer blog and Bob Yetman disclaim responsibility for any liability or loss incurred as a consequence of the use or application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein. Nothing contained in this article, or any other article featured at this blog, should be construed as a solicitation or recommendation to engage in any financial transaction. You should seek the advice of a qualified professional before making any changes to your personal financial profile.