Daily Business Review
By John Pacenti
“For seniors on a fixed income, it seemed like a good deal: trade in their real estate annuities or property for a steady stream of cash that would convert to a charitable donation when they die — and get a tax write-off to boot.
But the Securities and Exchange Commission charged in Miami federal court that We the People Inc. was a scam. The SEC said in a civil complaint that most of the money went to commissions and salaries for the couple who ran the Tallahassee-based operation.
Attorney Melanie Damian, the court-appointed receiver in the case, said unlike most scams, this was halted before most of the money was spent.
“They were looting. They just didn’t have the opportunity to loot it fully,” Damian said Tuesday. “This is really a huge credit to the SEC that they can catch this one in time.”
She said We the People’s senior executives, Richard and Susan Olive, were named in a federal fraud indictment in Tennessee in March 2012 for allegedly running a similar scheme, National Foundation of America. This prompted the SEC to begin the investigation of We the People, ultimately leading to the receivership order to shift control of its assets to Damian.”