Indianapolis-area insurance broker charged in $4M Ponzi scheme

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Former insurance broker Brian Simms of Lebanon was arrested Wednesday after being charged with six counts of wire fraud by a federal grand jury.

Simm, 44, who operated Brendanwood Financial Brokerage LLC in Carmel, made his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Tim A. Baker of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana and was released on his own recognizance under pretrial supervision. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison for each count.

Federal investigators said Simms was a licensed insurance broker, but was not licensed to sell securities or registered to provide financial advising services. However, beginning in 2013, he began convincing clients to cash out of or liquidate their traditional and long-term insurance products and investments and reinvest the funds with Brendanwood.

Simms allegedly made made false claims to investors about investing their funds in investment products. Instead, investigators say, he used the funds to pay business expenses such as payroll or for his own personal expenditures, including payments to credit cards, Amazon, grocery stores, gasoline, restaurants, and utilities.

To hide the scheme, Simms created false financial statements and made limited payments to some investors using money from other investors.

According to prosecutors, Simms misappropriated roughly $3,995,535 from investors.

According to the indictment, Simms had more than a dozen victims who invested from $15,000 to $1.4 million each with Brendanwood.

The case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Indiana Secretary of State’s Securities Division and is seeking additional information.

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