Utah finance group faces lawsuit in connection to multimillion dollar fraud scheme

CENTERVILLE, Utah (KUTV) — A lawsuit was filed on Tuesday against Centerville-based financial group Wealth Navigation Advisors in connection to a decade-long Ponzi scheme that resulted in around $30 million being stolen from over 50 people.

A man who lost his entire retirement in the scheme is claiming that the firm neglected its duties to supervise the man responsible for the alleged scheme.

Kaysville man Stephen Swensen is accused of running the Ponzi scheme, according to a lawsuit filed by the Securities Exchange Commission in October.

Swensen had been registered to Wealth Navigation Advisors as a fiduciary for the last few years of his alleged Ponzi scheme.

Now, a new lawsuit filed by Swensen’s former client Mark Fox claims that WNA is at fault for neglecting to oversee Swensen’s financial dealings, causing Fox to lose over $850,000 to fraud.

Fox said he and Swensen had been friends for over 20 years when he agreed to invest his family’s retirement savings with Crew Capital, Swensen’s fraudulent investment firm, in 2019.

According to the SEC’s original lawsuit, Swensen started the company in 2011 as a front for him to funnel money from clients into his personal account. He then used the money to fund his lavish lifestyle of private airplanes, multiple luxury homes and mistresses.

“The answer we’ll never get is why,” said Fox during a press conference announcing his subsequent lawsuit. “Just talking about it, I’m filled with disgust. To say that was a shock and [that] we’re furious would be a gross understatement.”

The SEC claimed that Swensen’s decade-long Ponzi scheme claimed over 50 victims to the tune of $30 million.

“How could this go on for over a decade without someone noticing?” asked Albert Copeland, an attorney with Peiffer Wolf law firm representing Fox.

Fox’s attorneys said the scheme was in full swing when Swensen signed on with Wealth Navigation Advisors in 2018, and they allegedly failed to recognize it.

“He and his wife lost $850,000 because of Swensen’s fraud, and WNA’s failure to detect the multimillion-dollar swindle occurring in plain sight,” stated Jason Kane, another Peiffer Wolf attorney representing Fox.

Wealth Navigation Advisors fired Swensen on June 6, 2022, for soliciting clients to invest in unauthorized dealings. It was the same day that Swensen took his own life.

Mark Fox is the second person 2News Investigates has spoken with claiming to have lost an entire lifetime’s worth of savings to Swensen’s scheme.

In 2022, Cortney Hall, the daughter of an elderly couple who invested their savings with Swensen, spoke about the dire consequences of her parents losing their money.

“My dad had two strokes and has cancer,” Hall said, “and Steve was sitting in front of him, telling him they’re going to have enough money to pay for all of his cancer treatments, and [he] was taking it from him.”

Hall added that “they’ve lost everything.”

She updated 2News Investigates this week that her parents have still not recovered any of the stolen money.

“Imagine working hard your whole life to save for retirement, only to learn you have to start from square one,” attorney Jason Kane said.

2News Investigates reached out to Wealth Navigation Advisors via email to ask how the scheme went unnoticed during Swensen’s time there or to see if anyone knew about it.

We have not received a response as of Tuesday evening.

Wealth Navigation Advisors are facing charges of breaching fiduciary duty, negligence, and failure to supervise in the lawsuit.

Source: KJZZ, Darby Sparks May 23, 2023


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