JPMorgan Investment Advisor Charged for Millions of Embezzled Dollars
Make sure that your financial advisor isn’t just using your money to live their life on.
Article by Kevin McCoy of USA Today
NEW YORK – A former JPMorgan Chase investment adviser was arrested Thursday on charges he stole $20 million from customers and spent the funds on unprofitable trading and other personal expenses.
Michael Oppenheim, 48, took money from at least seven bank clients in a fraud scheme he operated from March 2011 to March 2015, federal prosecutors alleged.
He was arrested Thursday at his Livingston, N.J., home and brought to Manhattan federal court for an initial hearing, authorities said.
Oppenheim worked as a JPMorgan investment adviser from February 2002 through last month, the Securities and Exchange Commission said in a <a title="http://www.sec these details.gov/litigation/complaints/2015/comp-pr2015-68.pdf” href=”http://www.sec.gov/litigation/complaints/2015/comp-pr2015-68.pdf”>civil complaint. He advised approximately 500 clients who collectively kept roughly $89 million in assets under his management, according to a criminal complaint filed by Manhattan federal prosecutors.
FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Diego Rodriguez said Oppenheim allegedly concealed clients’ funds “in a game of hide-and-seek and personally benefited from illegitimately obtained profits.”
Robert Gamburg, an attorney representing Oppenheim, did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.
JPMorgan Chase spokesman Michael Fusco said the bank terminated Oppenheim last month, alerted federal authorities and began working with affected customers.
“We are sorry and angry that this happened,” Fusco said in a statement issued by the nation’s largest bank Thursday. “We always stand by our customers and will ensure no customer who had their money stolen will lose any funds related to this.”
According to the criminal complaint, Oppenheim persuaded clients to allow transfers as large as millions of dollars from their accounts with promises he would invest the funds in low-risk municipal bonds held in a JPMorgan account. In other instances, he allegedly withdrew hundreds of thousands of dollars from client accounts without notification or authorization.
Prosecutors charged that Oppenheim used the funds to obtain cashier’s checks he deposited in at least three online brokerage accounts he or his wife, Alexandra Oppenheim, held at other financial institutions. The investment adviser “lost the bulk of the stolen funds in highly unprofitable options trading,” the SEC civil complaint charged.
Oppenheim also used some of the money to pay personal expenses, such as a home loan and other bills, prosecutors alleged.
He tried to hide the scheme by giving some clients fraudulent account statements that reflected bonds held by other JPMorgan customers, federal prosecutors charged. On several occasions, he allegedly withdrew funds from one client’s account and shifted it to another in an effort to prevent the scheme’s discovery.
Criminal charges against Oppenheim include wire fraud, embezzlement, securities fraud and investment adviser fraud. He could face a maximum 30-year prison term if convicted on the embezzlement count.
The SEC court complaint seeks an order requiring Oppenheim to disgorge all ill-gotten gains.
The financial regulator also named Alexandra Oppenheim as a relief defendant in the case because some of the money went to a broker account in her name, while other funds went to joint bank accounts she held with her husband.