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Consumer Alert: Retirement money stolen in scam


He promised them a better return on their savings, but instead he stole the money they had counted on for retirement.

Police say Steven Gwin stole over $1.2 million from more than 50 senior citizens in an investment fraud scheme.

"We had two victims who had diagnoses of dementia or Alzheimer's," explains Dennis Cunningham, a U.S. Postal Inspector. "He knew this at the time he was trying to get them to invest and he still took their money."

Cunningham explained how it worked.

"He would invest them in an IRA that would get them a better return than they were getting from their established IRAs."

But in reality, Cunningham says Gwin used fake documents to get his hands on their retirement money, all for his own personal use. Gwin used the money to buy everything from a Cadillac Escalade to a big beautiful home.

As postal inspectors began tracking the case, Gwin fled to Guatemala and then tried to travel to Mexico City. That's where postal inspectors say they caught a break.

"On that flight was a law enforcement liaison from Mexico who looked at the flight manifest and saw that one of the names had an outstanding arrest warrant."

The liaison contacted Mexican authorities.

"Mexico's policy on individuals flying into the country with active warrants-- they basically send them on a plane back to where they came from," says Cunningham. "We got lucky that when Mr. Gwin was flying back to Guatemala from Mexico City he had a layover in Phoenix."

US Marshalls were in Arizona to meet Gwin, where he was quickly arrested and plead guilty. Inspectors say all investors need to do their due diligence.

"Sometimes it's just better to make money the old fashioned way," explains Cunningham, "and use a low yielding product and avoid being scammed."

Postal inspectors recommend contacting the Better Business Bureau, Federal Trade Commission or your State Attorney General to see if there have been any complaints against the individual or company.

Gwin plead guilty to mail fraud and money laundering charges. He is serving nine-years in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered Gwin to pay more than $1 million dollars in restitution.


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