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Consumer Alert: Beware of investors making false promises

His victims trusted him. In return, he stole millions of their dollars and destroyed their lives. John Pachini claimed to be an insurance salesman who also did investment consulting.

"His business was called Center for Senior Financial Planning, so it was clear from the outset that he was targeting only senior citizens," says U.S. Postal Inspector Fred Busch.

Postal inspectors say Pachini would start by selling clients annuity products.

"Which aren't really good investments for seniors because they are long term investments. He would put them in annuities because he claimed a lot of money in commission," says Busch.

Authorities say Pachini was a con man.

"In some cases, he liquidated them without them even knowing and simply forged their signature on the withdrawal forms," says Busch.

There were more than 70 victims and more than $3.5 million in losses. One victim was a 94-year-old widow who was also blind.

"Paccini would come to her house and because she can't see what she was signing he would sign for her or just take her checkbook and write out checks to himself from it. She didn't know what was going on, she just trusted him," says Busch.

Where did all the money go?

"From there he literally just went on a daily spending binge. He was just a guy that didn't need the money, he just wanted the money, stole the money and spent it on himself," says Busch.

Postal inspectors say senior citizens are very quick to trust.

"When I've interviewed seniors they say 'well he told me what he was going to do with the money, and I believed him'," says Busch.

If you are a friend or relative of a senior citizen, keep a close eye on how they're spending their money.

"If you don't do that then it gives free reign to these fraudsters to do whatever they want with your money and think they can get away with it," says Busch.

Panchini was sentenced to 10 years in prison, followed by three years of probation. He was ordered to pay $3.5 million in restitution to the victims. During the sentencing hearing, one of the victims who addressed the court was Pachini's sister-in-law. She was recently widowed and lost $300,000 to Pachini.


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