Who is Peggy Ann Fulford nee Barad?
Peggy Ann Fulford née Barad was born in New Orleans in 1958 and went on to study at
Spelman College in Atlanta. She later set up King Management Group and befriended successful sports stars, particularly basketball legend Dennis Rodman. She claimed to have graduated from Harvard and attained her wealth from successful business dealings. She offered to help manage the star’s investments for free to help them build wealth and protect them from scammers.
What was the scam?
Her clients gave Fulford complete control of their finances to allow her to spend and invest money on their behalf. She would then typically set up two bank accounts, a joint account for living expenses and a separate bank account for investment, which she alone is controlled. Much of the money from the investment account would be diverted to her via a web of shell companies. She also looted money from the joint account to fund her lifestyle, often more lavish than her clients.
What happened next?
Fulford blamed shortfalls in her clients’ accounts on administrative errors or even on their own spending habits. But over time, the shortfalls got bigger-clients ended up ensuring payments and unpaid tax and sued for child support even had their electricity cut off. In 2012 several disgruntled clients began talking about their financial problems, prompting one to start
investigating Fulford. It was revealed that not only had she not attended Harvard, but the
brokerage in which she had supposedly been putting the clients’ money didn’t know anything about her. Eventually, the FBI arrested her, convicted and sentenced her to ten years in jail.
Lessons for investors
At least $5.8m was stolen from Fulford’s clients’ accounts, though only a few of her victims
pressed charges as there was little chance of any money being recovered. Her victims were not
alone: Ernest & Young believes that, between 2004 and 2018, professional athletes lost nearly $600m in fraud. No matter how well-intentioned, giving anyone complete control over your own finances without rigorous checks is very dangerous. It also pays to be suspicious of “free” services. As the saying has it, if you’re not paying, you’re the product-or, in these cases, the cash cow.
Kris Paterson is a writer for whatjobs.com
Image Credits: Oxygen