June 10, 2013
Ralph A. Saviano was a 40-year veteran of the financial industry who was registered with Centaurus Financial Inc. from July 2007 to June 2012; and since July 2012 conducted business under Saviano Financial Group, an unincorporated DBA. From about 2007 to 2012, Saviano had approximately 300 clients, many who were unsophisticated investors between 60 to 85 years old - folks whom Saviano had known for many years.
Apparently, Saviano came up with a scheme. He targeted clients with whom he had developed a close personal relationship and who he knew were about to receive significant amounts of cash (e.g., from the maturation of a certificate of deposit). Saviano proposed to these victims that they reinvest their proceeds in interest bearing low-risk products or as a business loan to Saviano Financial Group.
85 Year Old
Around May 2012, one 85-year-old client gave Saviano about $63,000 from a matured CD. Saviano accompanied this elderly client to her bank in order to get his hands on the redemption proceeds. Around June 28, 2012, this victim asked about the status of her investment, and during a recorded telephone call, Saviano told her that he had invested her in two investment funds. In fact, no such investment had been made and, to date, the customer has received no repayment.
80 Year Old With Cancer
An 80-year-old customer suffering from cancer provided to Saviano about $75,000, representing an inheritance from a sister-in-law. In response to several phone calls asking about the status of her investments, Saviano said "he was working on it," and apologized for forgetting that the customer wanted $400 to $500 in monthly disbursements. Saviano claimed that he needed more time to file paperwork in order to generate the monthly payments. To date, this client has not received any repayment.
Instead of investing as promised, Saviano used the funds to repay other clients' prior loans, in a classic Ponzi scheme. Also, he diverted the money for such personal expenses as (Note: all amounts are "at least" and approximate values):
- $33,400 worth of home improvements including granite counter tops;
- $18,100 cash payments to himself and family;
- $10,600 in home mortgage and person rent;
- $6,300 in a family vacation to Aruba and a theater donation; and
- $2,800 in jewelry and clothing.
On June 05, 2013, Saviano, 72, Bridgewater, NJ, pled guilty in federal court in the District of New Jersey to an Information charging him with wire fraud in connection with his theft of $138,000 from two elderly investors. At the plea hearing, the court entered a consent judgment and order of forfeiture in the amount of $699,926.51, which constitutes the proceeds Saviano obtained from his known investor victims as a result of his offense.
Saviano faces a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, or twice the gross amount of pecuniary gain or loss resulting from the offense. Sentencing is scheduled for September 11, 2013.
If you believe you are a victim of or otherwise have information concerning this alleged scheme, you are encouraged to contact the FBI at 973-792-3000.
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