Sisters scammed by man they trusted


He was their trusted financial advisor, but he is now in jail for stealing millions. The people he stole from, feel completely betrayed.

"This man was like a brother to me. You know he treated us like we were family," said a scam victim, who does not want to be identified.

She is referring to Gary Martel, a con-man who stole millions of dollars from his clients. The unidentified woman was not only his victim, but she was also his employee.  She not only lost her own savings, she encouraged her family, including her sister, to invest with Martel, too.

"I guess I was very naive," the sister said. "I never I went with the word of mouth. My own sister, her boss, and a nice gentleman - so I think we were so blindsided."

Both women say Martel made them feel important and took a personal interest in their lives and their family.

"He would be so welcoming, he would be so charming, he would be so involved in whatever you had to say at that moment. My mother was ill, he would talk just about her and you know, we're going to get a prayer line going, and just if you need anything, call us anytime," the sister added.

"He didn't care about my children, he didn't care about my sister, her boys, her family. The only person Gary cared about was Gary," said the unidentified employee.

"He was a smooth talker, so anything he said people would believe him," explained U.S. Postal Inspector David Breton.

Postal inspectors say Martel had a legitimate investment background and  knew what he was doing.

"They'd get these statements every month, kept them on a regular basis showing that they made money - where in actuality there was no money," said Breton.

Investigators say 30 victims lost $3 million.

"They were saving for college and they thought this would be a quick way to earn more money so they'd have money for school, he just drained it all. They had nothing left," Breton explained.

Martel pleaded guilty to three counts of mail fraud. He was sentenced to little more than 7 years in prison and ordered to pay $3 million in restitution to victims.

The two sisters admit they were naive. Next time, they'll do more research on exactly where their money is going. But, in the meantime, their financial loss is impacting their lives.

"And I don't trust people like I used to, I'm more guarded now," said the unidentified employee.  "I feel like our family suffered because my personal investments are gone. And everything that my husband and I wanted to do when we had kids, the traveling, giving them this and that you know - now we're very frugal and watching everything."

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission offers advice as to what you can do to avoid investment fraud, as well as red flags and common persuasion tactics.  To find out more, click here.