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Category Archives: William Harrison Wachovia

Former Wachovia Reps Preyed On Elderly, SEC Says

Ex-Wachovia Securities brokers William Harrison and Eddie Sawyers told clients they had a “sure thing” for them to invest in – complete with 35% returns and no chance of losing their principal. Instead, investors ended up losing $8 million.

In a federal fraud lawsuit filed last week, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) says Harrison, 33, and Sawyers, 45, created a “business” called Harrison/Sawyers Financial Services as a subterfuge to entice their clients to invest in a new investment product that promised big returns and no risk. The SEC says the two focused almost entirely on elderly customers, many of whom were unsophisticated investors.

According to the complaint, Harrison and Sawyers made numerous misrepresentations about the products they were selling. In one instance, Harrison told an investor that the money was being placed in stocks, when it was actually being used for high-risk options trading. The SEC says both men asked clients to sign blank forms, then filled out the forms designating Harrison’s wife, Deana, as the clients’ agent and power of attorney.

Harrison and Sawyers also created user IDs and passwords for some clients’ accounts on an online trading site called optionsXpress, as well as set up the accounts so that clients wouldn’t receive statements, according to the charges.

Meanwhile, Harrison and Sawyers were profiting from their scheme. In July 2008, the two men withdrew $234,000.

In early fall, as the financial crisis began to take hold, Harrison and Sawyers started to lose large amounts of their clients’ money. Some clients’ accounts fell 70%. One couple invested $100,000 and later learned that their account had dwindled to $16,000, the lawsuit says.

Harrison resigned from Wachovia Securities on Oct. 13, 2008. In his letter of resignation, he stated that he had “misdirected” $6.6 million of his clients’ money. Sawyers resigned the following day.

Most of the investors who became victims of Harrison and Sawyers had their money in conservative investment products and no knowledge of how to invest in stocks and bonds or how to read financial statements. Many were retired and living on fixed incomes, the SEC says.

Ex-Wachovia Brokers Accused Of Defrauding Elderly Clients

Two former Wachovia Securities brokers – William Harrison and Eddie Sawyers – are accused of misleading dozens of elderly clients into investing in what they called a sure thing. Instead, investors lost approximately $8 million, according to a lawsuit filed Dec. 15 by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The SEC complaint alleges that Harrison and Sawyers misrepresented the investment strategies they were selling to at least 42 clients in 2007 and 2008. Among their promises: A guarantee of 35% returns without any risk to investors’ principal investment. In reality, the brokers were using investors’ money to trade securities in risky online deals.

The SEC said that in July 2008, Harrison and Sawyers withdrew $234,000 from three client accounts as compensation for their management services. They split the amount.

As reported Dec. 16 by Bloomberg, the SEC accuses the duo of recruiting Wachovia investors to a new business venture called Harrison/Sawyers Financial Services.

According to the complaint, Harrison and Sawyers touted their venture as “an essentially foolproof investment plan guaranteed to make money regardless of market conditions.”

Instead, investors – all of whom the SEC says were “unsophisticated investors” – lost big.

In one instance, Harrison and Sawyers reportedly told a husband and wife who had invested $100,000 that their money had “maxed out” by achieving a 35% return. In truth, the couple’s investment had lost nearly $84,000.

Most of the investors involved in the scheme were more than 50 years of age. Some were retired and living on fixed incomes, the SEC says.

In addition to allegations of misrepresentation, the lawsuit says that the two brokers set up online brokerage accounts in some clients’ names, while pooling the investment money from other clients into accounts set up in the name of Harrison’s wife and in a joint account held by the Harrisons.

If you’ve suffered losses while doing business with William Harrison and Eddie Sawyers, please contact our securities fraud team. We will evaluate your situation to determine if you have a claim.

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