Seniors lose $200,000-plus to securities scam
A Washington man arrested Monday on a string of theft and fraud charges apparently made off with more than $200,000 through sales of fake annuities to elderly clients in Southern Oregon, and investigators fear there might be other victims.
Michael Kenyon Frazier, 50, of Spokane Valley, Wash., turned himself in to Medford police Monday and was lodged at the Jackson County Jail on eight counts of first-degree aggravated theft and charges of securities fraud, selling unregistered securities and selling securities without a license. Bail is listed at $250,000.
Frazier formerly lived in Sutherlin and he offered investment seminars through his business, Frazier Financial Services, for seniors at various retirement homes, senior centers and convention centers across Southern Oregon since 2002, Medford police Sgt. Phil Eastman said.
Frazier's presentations often lacked specifics on where clients' money would be invested, and investigators suspect he used the funds he collected to pay off earlier investors and to remodel his home, Eastman said.
An investigation was launched in July 2007 when an unhappy investor called the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services, division of finance and corporate securities, to report suspected fraud. The client had invested money in an annuity Frazier offered in June 2004, but never received any payments, Eastman said.
Medford police uncovered at least eight separate instances in which Frazier took money, but didn't provide the promised services. Eagle Point police also were investigating a complaint, Eastman said.
In all, state and local investigators suspect Frazier defrauded multiple victims in Jackson County and at least one other victim in Josephine County. Each investor lost tens of thousands of dollars, for a total that likely amounts to $200,000 to $310,000, Eastman said.
Further investigation may reveal additional victims along the Interstate 5 corridor, although state authorities believe Frazier mostly worked in Southern Oregon.
Frazier, who formerly owned an insurance agency in Sutherlin and founded Frazier Financial as a retirement planning company in 2001, lost his license as an insurance agent in 2005 for misappropriating money that customers gave him for an annuity, state records show. In 2002, he took $15,000 from an elderly couple he was friends with and planned to pay off $17,000 he owed in back taxes, disciplinary records from the Department of Consumer and Business Services insurance division show. He repaid that money while under investigation, and, at the 2005 hearing, touted a clean disciplinary record with no complaints in his first two decades in business.
Investigators advise those who have information about Frazier's activities or feel they may have been defrauded by him to call Medford police at 774-2230 or the Division of Finance and Corporate Securities toll-free at (866) 814-9710.
Reach reporter Anita Burke at 776-4485, or e-mail email@example.com.