SEC Charges Couple With Defrauding Seniors Using Purported Charitable Gift Annuities

The Securities and Exchange Commission recently charged Richard K. Olive and Susan L. Olive, husband and wife, with defrauding senior citizens in connection with the sale of investments for an alleged charitable organization, We The People, Inc., in Tallahassee, Florida. The organization obtained more than $75 million from more than 400 investors in Florida, Colorado, Texas, and more than 30 other states by selling an investment product described as a charitable gift annuity (“CGA”). The amount of contributions actually made to charity were greatly exaggerated, while the Olives not only received more than $1.1 million in salary and commissions, but also diverted investor funds for their personal use.

The CGAs issued by We The People differed in several ways from CGAs issued legitimately, primarily because they were used to benefit the Olives and other third-party promoters and consultants. The SEC Complaint alleges that the Olives lured elderly investors with limited investing experience into the scheme through numerous false representations about the purported value and financial benefits of We The People’s CGAs. The Olives also lied about the safety and security of the investments.

“The Olives raised millions from senior citizens by claiming that We The People’s so-called CGAs provided attractive financial benefits and were re-insured and backed by assets held in trust,” said Julie Lutz, Associate Director of the SEC’s Denver Regional Office. “Investors were not given the full story about the true value and security of their investments.”

The SEC’s complaint charges the Olives with violations, or aiding and abetting violations, of the antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws as well as violations of the securities and broker-dealer registration provisions of the federal securities laws. The SEC also filed separate complaints against We The People and its in-house counsel William G. Reeves, both of whom agreed to settle the charges without admitting or denying the allegations. The settlements are subject to court approval. We The People consented to a final judgment that enables the appointment of a receiver to protect more than $60 million of investor assets still held by the company.

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