‘Prime bank’ scheme suspect behind bars

It’s been almost four years since Richard James Tucker was booked into Baldwin County jail for his alleged connection to Synergy Finance Group, LLC based in Robertsdale.

“It described itself as a multi-billion dollar loan brokerage business, supposedly soliciting money from U.S. and foreign investors who were seeking large, non-collateral loans,” Joseph Borg, director for the Alabama Securities Commission, said. “Which is what we would call an ‘advance fee loan scheme.’”

Over the course of the investigation and a 2012 trial, Tucker was found guilty of several counts of security fraud and theft of property among others.

And authorities said he didn’t work alone. In 2011, Michael Judd from Studio City, CA was arrested along with Paul Liggett of Fenton MO, Kirk Patterson of Colvis, CA, and Sam Williams Jr., an attorney out of Atlanta, GA.

“As you continue to develop, you find other folks and other funds that went into different accounts,” Borg said. “And this is a standard way of investigating. It’s what we call ‘follow the money.’”

That money trail led to four additional arrests ranging from New York to Arizona and back to California, which leads to Vahak Dino Awadisian. He faces one of the largest bond amounts set for any of the men arrested thus far at $1 million.

The ASC said this ordeal should send a strong message to potential investors.

“There has to be some due diligence here. Had any of these investors actually called us and said, ‘Look, we’re going to invest in this business, Synergy’ and asked us if they were licensed and registered, the answer would’ve been, ‘No! Hold on to your wallet because it’s illegal,’” Borg said. “So the message we want to get out to folks is before they make an investment, they really need to check with us.”

Tucker is being held at the Loxley Work Center for the time being. The Department of Corrections said he’s set to be released on April 4 of this year.

Tips for Avoiding Prime Bank Note Fraud:

  • Think before you invest in anything. Be wary of an investment in any scheme, referred to as a “roll program,” that offers unusually high yields by buying and selling anything issued by “prime banks.”
  • As with any investment, perform due diligence. Independently verify the identity of the people involved, the veracity of the deal, and the existence of the security in which you plan to invest.
  • Be wary of business deals that require non-disclosure or non-circumvention agreements that are designed to prevent you from independently verifying information about the investment.

 

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