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Financial Adviser Sentenced to Over 7 Years in Prison for $1 Million Theft from Clients

11/2/2015 2:11:40 PM

MINNEAPOLIS – Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman announced that a former Twin Cities financial adviser has been sentenced to more than 7 years (88 months) in federal prison for stealing nearly $1 million from her clients.

SUSAN ELIZABETH WALKER, 51, of Plymouth, Minn., was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Michael Davis. She had earlier pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud and one count of tax evasion. 

The case is the result of an investigation by the Minnesota Commerce Fraud Bureau as well as the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations and Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“Walker stole her clients’ life savings by abusing her position of trust,” said Rothman.  “Many of Walker’s victims were seniors who counted on Walker to manage their accounts responsibly, but instead she diverted their hard-earned savings to finance her own lavish lifestyle.  Because financial exploitation of seniors is a serious concern, our Commerce Fraud Bureau is working closely with prosecutors and other law enforcement agencies to stop these crimes.”

From October 2008 until March 2013, WALKER provided financial planning services to clients through her affiliation with Ameriprise Financial Inc. She was a securities agent registered with the Minnesota Commerce Department and a financial adviser registered with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). 

WALKER stole from her clients by misusing her access to their retirement accounts, drawing checks on their accounts and depositing the funds into accounts that she controlled.

WALKER also opened investment brokerage accounts in her own name and in the names of several clients without their knowledge or authorization. She used these accounts to conceal funds stolen from other clients and then spend the money for her own personal use. 

She used funds stolen as part of the fraud scheme to pay for, among other things, private school tuition and expensive vacation travel.

Altogether, WALKER stole more than $980,000 from at least 24 victims.

In addition to stealing from her clients, WALKER failed to report any of the funds obtained through fraud on her tax returns. The total tax loss on her unreported income is approximately $325,000.

Commerce is here to help

If you have questions or concerns about a possible scam or fraud, contact the Commerce Department’s Consumer Services Center by email at consumer.protection@state.mn.us or by phone at 651-539-1600 or 800-657-3602 (Greater Minnesota).

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