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The Bottom Line: Keeping Your Money Safe
ALBANY -- You trust financial advisers with your money. But how can you be sure your life savings are safe?
Even here in the Capital Region, two Albany brokers - Timothy McGinn and David Smith - face years in prison for stealing millions from investors.
But their victims' story is not unique.
For example, surveillance pictures from elsewhere show Andrew Myers in the grocery store with his young son. Purchases made in that store helped Postal Inspectors link the former financial advisor, to more than 57 cases of identity theft.
"He stole clients’ information and identity profiles from both his customers and his fellow co-workers, and then performed changes of addresses and opened various bank accounts in his name," says U.S. Postal Inspector Douglas Biel.
Myers worked for Northwestern Mutual, selling both investments and insurance. But his own quest for money led to his downfall.
"He was trying to live the high life,” Biel says. “He was staying in very expensive hotels, he was flying call girls with him out to the Playboy mansion, and feeding on other's people dime."
Judy Cohen didn't know Myers - but she was one of his victims.
"You just can't believe a total stranger would target you and steal your identity," she says.
Fortunately, Judy's bank promptly alerted her and her husband that someone was applying for charge cards in their names.
"They could have run up bills, we would have no clue that someone was out spending in our name,” says Judy. “No one is safe. It could happen to me again. It could be happening right now."
The Bottom Line on how to protect your savings?
CBS 6's Dori Marlin reports, the experts say you should first ask a potential advisor you're considering using if they are registered. Investment professionals are not are held to a lesser standard than those who are.
Next, ask about professional certifications. They aren't a gaurantee - but they are signs of credibility.
Finally, ask an investor if they use a third-party 'custodian' or 'clearing firm' for statements. This prevents an advisor from having direct control of your assets, and adds an extra level of security for your account.