An Atlanta, Georgia area investment adviser, John Woods, was recently sentenced to 8 years in prison for his role in operating a ponzi scheme. Operating over a staggering 13-year period, Woods defrauded more than 400 individuals, including retirees, seniors, and military veterans, resulting in a loss exceeding $49 million. Under the guise of his fund, “Horizon Private Equity,” Woods promised lucrative returns of six to seven percent to potential investors, claiming minimal risk and a diverse portfolio. However, investigations revealed that the money collected from new investors was used to pay returns to earlier investors, constituting a classic Ponzi scheme.
The case underscores the importance of regulatory vigilance in the investment industry. Despite assurances of safety and profitability, Woods’s actions demonstrated a flagrant abuse of trust, ultimately causing financial ruin to hundreds of victims across 20 different states.
Investment Advisers are fiduciaries, and as such they owe their customers duties of care and loyalty, both of which were flagrantly breached in this situation. Mr. Woods was a longtime investment adviser representative at Oppenheimer & Co., Inc.