"I engage audiences with the psychological and financial tactics fraudsters use to instigate and perpetuate their crimes."
James’ story begins like any other. After earning his Bachelor of Science in Finance from the University of Illinois at Chicago, he gained valuable securities and futures brokerage experience managing retail trading desks, client service, and back-office and floor operations. His bullish career trajectory was pointing to a meaningful career in the financial services industry. However, when James was confronted with trading losses as a new Chicago Board of Trade member, his core values were tested, and regrettably, where his tumultuous journey begins.
In June 1999, James walked away from his six-figure salary as a Trade Desk Manager with a global derivatives brokerage firm to head an independent futures brokerage office. He wanted to better service clients trading a U.S. Treasury Bond futures trading system he had developed and ultimately manage client assets.
In February 2003, with a three-year profitable track record under his belt, the time came to prove his worth as a futures trader and professionally manage investor funds. James became a member of the Chicago Board of Trade and launched a proprietary futures fund.
James’ transition to the trading floor, however, wasn’t easy. His once-positive investment performance quickly turned negative. All of his clients were friends, family, and loyal brokerage clients, placing James in a difficult position.
Disclose the losses and risk his investors withdrawing funds, resulting in having to close the fund or alter monthly statements to “buy” time and recoup the losses. Painfully afraid to disclose his trading losses, James panicked and made the worst decision of his life—he falsified the first month of his clients’ performance statements believing that he could make the losses back. Sadly, he could not.
From there, everything spiraled. One bad decision led to another, and another, where James ended up subsidizing his clients’ trading losses with his net worth and the situation convoluted into $3.8 million in fraud. James’ fraud lasted for seven-plus years, even though he knew exactly what he was doing and that it was wrong. At the time, he truly believed that he could recoup the losses without anyone finding out. When no one did ever find out, James realized he had to come clean. He was never going to make his clients’ money back, and it was game over.
It was on the 6th of January 2011 that James walked into Chicago’s Dirksen Federal Building, accompanied by his criminal attorney, Robert Callahan. With his heart beating out of his chest, James voluntarily confessed his fraud to former Assistant U.S. Attorney, The Honorable Samuel Cole, and FBI Special Agent, Brent Potter. Both were blindsided by the honesty from this man who had never been under any form of investigation by any Federal or State Law Enforcement or U.S. Regulatory Agency.
James openly pled guilty to one count of mail fraud—sending false financial statements through the U.S. Mail—and served six-and-a-half years in federal prison. He turned his sentence into an opportunity to pinpoint the root causes of investment fraud analyzing hundreds of Federal and State investment fraud cases via Bloomberg BNA and LexisNexis, along with forensic accounting and fraud examination textbooks. He also interviewed dozens of fellow fraudsters to identify the copious clever tactics they used to defraud innocent people and entities.
James’ punishment swiftly evolved into his passion, and he began to pursue a career as an anti-investment fraud advocate. Using the knowledge he’d gained during his sentence, James designed a robust risk model identifying dozens of direct and indirect warning signs of fraudulent investment activity. James continues to utilize this model today in his presentations, workshops, and consulting practice.
Fast-forward to 2019. James is a dedicated advocate serving investors to prevent fraud across the entire investment spectrum—from unregistered small shop swindlers to licensed brokers, investment advisors, and hedge funds. Billions of dollars flow freely from thousands of investors into the pockets of fraudsters annually; something he is hellbent on preventing.
James can be found raising investment fraud awareness by delivering dynamic presentations and training workshops to investors and professionals across the accounting, legal, and financial communities. He has graduate certificates in both Forensic and Investigative Accounting and Financial Fraud Examination from Saint Xavier University in Chicago.
James is passionate about teaching investors and financial professionals the knowledge and tools required to help protect assets from falling into the hands of fraudsters.