|Kenneth Wayne McLeod|
In 20 years, Kenneth Wayne McLeod gave 250 retirement planning seminars for law enforcement.and government employees all across the country. Cops signed up, and other cops trusted their buddies and signed up fellow officers and family members. In recent years, when money got tight, he’d give some of these seminars for free. There seemed to be no red flags that this was a scam. Nobody was making outrageous sums of money.
Except for Mr. McLeod.
But when there were disturbing signs and suspicions, McLeod’s case reached Cameron K. Funkhouser, a fraud detector for FINRA, an independent regulator for U.S. securities firms. Eventually investigators would discover a Ponzi scheme that had bilked investors out of at least $34 million.
Once the case was in Funkhouser’s hands, he did what any top investigator would do: He Googled. "I wish I could say this was brilliant, but it was brilliant in its simplicity," Funkhouser says. The results were disturbing. One warning sign was that McLeod’s education and experience weren’t typical of other experts in the profession. Funkhouser also came across a local news clip of McLeod loading coolers onto a chartered bus for a trip to the Super Bowl in Miami. McLeod told the reporter that he had been paying for such trips for the past six years.
FINRA investigators got in touch with some of McLeod’s clients and asked McLeod himself to come to Washington for an interview. McLeod demurred, saying he was unable to make the trip due to his busy schedule and some financial troubles. After Funkhouser heard the response, he got a sickening feeling. He and his deputies picked up the phone and called McLeod himself. "He did exactly what I expected him to do, which is he talked," Funkhouser says. "He basically went into the sales pitch."
McLeod insisted he had nothing to hide and told Funkhouser that he could ask any senior official at a law enforcement agency and he would know who Wayne McLeod was. He said he was very good friends with FBI Director Mueller and that the two played golf together.
Wayne McLeod: The Life and Death of a Mini-Madoff, Business Week>>
SEC probes alleged Ponzi scheme targeting feds, Federal Times>>