On Air Radio Financial Advisor Missing with Client’s Money
We all work hard for our money. Putting away dollars for retirement is essential for most. I try to make the best decisions I can when it comes to retirement. I’m also aware of my surroundings when I venture out.
I am a radio talk show junkie of sorts. I listen to political, consumer, home repair, religious, finance, and gardening advice. I use a bit of what I’ve heard on the radio and pride myself on having a step up on most things current. One such show was Dynamic Money. The show’s host, Chris Burns, was a knowledgeable, charismatic host. He was not the fast-talking, buy now, used car salesman who you would want to keep at a distance. He was a fee-only advisor who gave logical, concise advice. I am speaking in the past tense concerning Chris because he was reported missing by his wife. This charismatic radio talk show host allegedly did a little hanky-panky with some of his client’s money. Before I dig a little deeper, I want to state that whatever happened, I wish he is well and that nothing sinister has happened to him. The FBI opened a case into his dealings with his clients. Things do not look good, and I feel for his wife and children as this unwinds.
As I stated before, I try, like many others, to make sound financial decisions, especially when it comes to my retirement. Things can happen that may be out of your control — getting robbed while shopping at the mall or carjacked at a stoplight. But to trust someone with part or all of your retirement money only to have him disappear is genuinely frustrating. Somebody robbed you, someone, you trusted. He asked for your money, and you gave it to him. I do not downplay what appears to be theft. If found guilty, Chris should be prosecuted. He used the airwaves and a reputable, long-standing radio station to help lure his clients. At this point, I need to point out that Chris paid for airtime and was never an employee of the station. However, this leaves a black eye on the station’s reputation, and management should do additional vetting on future nonemployees hosting a program.
As of mid-November 2020, Mr. Burns’ assets were frozen. Chris was reported missing on September 24, 2020, by his wife. The day before, he told his wife he was going to visit his parents in North Carolina. Chris never showed and was reported missing. That same week he raised over $300,000 from investors leaving less than $100 in his account. His car was located in a Northern Atlanta suburb with copies of cashier’s checks totaling $78,000.
The alleged setup involved a peer-to-peer loan system with returns from 5 to 20 percent. This Ponzi scheme used money from one client to pay interest money to another. Ponzi Schemes end badly because it catches up to the person moving the money around. People become suspicious when they are told varying stories about why they must wait for their funds. But this was deeper than that.
Matson Money, an $8.8 billion Registered Investment Advisor (RIA), was sent clients from Mr. Burns company, Investus Advisers. Quarterly advisory fees were charged to the client’s accounts and paid from Matson Money to Investus Advisors. Chris advised his clients to remove funds from Matson Money and place that in peer-to-peer loans. The fabricated profits were then placed back into Matson Money’s registered accounts. Matson Money will need to show they did not have prior knowledge of what was taking place. It will be difficult for Matson Money to play ignorant, considering Chris used their proprietary application. Matson Money denies any wrongdoing and states Mr. Burns was an Independent Advisor not affiliated with their firm. The lawsuit states over 90 investors were swindled out of $5 million. Matson Money’s involvement is dependent on the court.
Meredith Burns, Chris’s wife, has been cooperating with the investigation and was not directly cited as involved. At the time, she was not employed. Chris used funds from his clients to purchase a million-dollar home, three cars, and a boat. The Government released $50,000 of the frozen accounts for Meredith to live.
There are three parties involved, Chris Burns, his company Investus Advisers, and Matson Money. If found guilty, Chris and his company will not have much to give back. But Matson Money has plenty, and this may be unfortunate for them whether they were knowingly involved or not. If they are not charged, their name (brand) may be tarnished for not being astute enough to see what was happening in their own house. If evidence points in their direction, the payback, and fines alone will hurt. But the killer might be the number of potential and current clients who decide to go elsewhere. After Bernie Madoff, investors are fickle where they put their money. If a multi-billion-dollar investment firm does not notice a simple Ponzi scheme, what else are they not seeing?