Retirements stolen by scammer

More than $1.2 million taken from more than 50 senior citizens

By Jodi Mohrmann - Managing Editor of special projects
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He promised them a better return on their savings, but instead, he stole the money they had counted on for retirement.

"We had two victims who had diagnoses of dementia or Alzheimer's. He knew this at the time he was trying to get them to invest and he still took their money," said US Postal Inspector Dennis Cunningham.

"He" is Steven Gwin and he stole over $1.2 million from more than 50 senior citizens in an investment fraud scheme.

"He would invest them in an IRA that would get them a better return than they were getting from their established IRAs," said Cunningham.

But in reality, Cunningham says Gwin would use bogus and forged documentation, and take out all of that money that they worked their lives for to basically live off of for two to three years.  He used the money for his personal use for things like a Cadillac Escalade, a big, beautiful home and other living expenses.

As postal inspectors began tracking the case, Gwin fled to Guatamala. But they caught a break when Gwin tried to travel to Mexico City.

"On that flight was a law enforcement liaison from Mexico who looked at the flight manifest and saw that one of the names had an outstanding arrest warrant," explained Cunningham.

The liason contacted Mexican authorities.

"Mexico's policy on individuals flying into the country with active warrants-- they basically send them on a plane back to where they came from," explained Cunningham.

 Investigators caught yet another break.

"We got lucky that when Mr. Gwin was flying back to Guatemala from Mexico City he had a layover in Phoenix," said Cunningham.

US Marshals were in Arizona to meet Gwin. He was quickly arrested and pleded guilty.
Inspectors say all investors need to do their due diligence.

"Sometimes it's just better to make money the old fashioned way, and use a low yielding product and avoid being scammed," said Cunningham.

Postal inspectors recommend contacting the Better Business Bureau, Federal Trade Commission or your State Attorney General to see if there have been any complaints against the individual or company.
As for Gwin, he pleded guilty to mail fraud and money laundering charges. He is serving nine years in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered Gwin to pay more than $1 million in restitution.

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