RALEIGH — A federal jury has convicted a Raleigh financial adviser of fraud after he stole more than $1 million from an elderly client and bought a BMW, Rolex watches and a Bahamas vacation.
Federal agents said Furman Alexander Ford also used the 72-year-old client’s money to pay child support.
Ford, 51, worked as an adviser for New York Life between 2012 and 2015. His major client, identified as “E.J.,” had inherited property worth $1.3 million, which Ford helped to sell and use the money to set up a charitable annuity.
The annuity was to pay his client $6,000 a month, and as part of his duties, Ford was to draft letters asking for withdrawals, according to a news release from the U.S. attorney’s office.
Federal agents later discovered 20 letters requesting funds between $4,000 and $45,000, all of which were transferred to Ford’s personal account.
The FBI tracked the funds to the Bahamas cruise, the watches and child support payments, along with guns that Ford bought.
In 2019, court records said, federal agents interviewed his longtime girlfriend, who told them “that in late 2018, Ford came to her home and informed her he had jumped his fence to avoid federal investigators knocking at his door.”
He later admitted using E.J.’s signature to withdraw funds, records said, and showed investigators the copy he kept on his tablet.
Jurors in New Bern convicted Ford on Wednesday of 11 counts of mail fraud, 11 counts of wire fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft. He faces a maximum penalty of 444 months when sentenced in August.
“Integrity and trust are characteristics that all financial agents should embody,” said Acting U.S. Attorney G. Norman Acker. “Unfortunately, the defendant used his position to prey upon one of our nation’s most vulnerable citizens and today he was held accountable for his criminal actions. Our office is dedicated to prosecuting fraud cases, particularly those directed at the elderly, and will continue to use our resources to bring to justice those who take advantage of others to line their pockets with money.”
Ford also faces a federal indictment alleging he defrauded the Medicare program by submitting false claims to take money not owed.
Those claims, submitted by he and a co-conspirator, total more than $240,000, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.
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