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Ex-Ameriprise Broker Mark Francis Speakman Pleads Guilty to REIT Wire Fraud, Money Laundering

After defrauding clients out of $1.1 million by pretending to invest in a real estate investment trust (REIT) and gold coins—including one terminally ill customer whose primary objective was to provide for her surviving family—former Ameriprise Financial broker Mark Francis Speakman received a five-year prison sentence, having entered a guilty plea to charges of wire fraud, money laundering, and filing a false income tax return.

According to federal prosecutors, Speakman stole from his clients for a 14-year period (2002-2015), convincing vulnerable clients to invest in a fraudulent REIT and commodity scheme.

Speakman's fake REIT, which he recommended and sold while associated with Ameriprise, was called Centrax, and never actually existed.

Court documents indicate that Speakman convinced a client dying of terminal cancer to invest in the fake Centrax REIT, falsely portraying that such an investment would pay off the customer's mortgage and ease her surviving family's financial burden.

The client had initially attempted to liquidate her account and directed Speakman to write checks to an estate attorney and crematorium, but Speakman instead persuaded her to invest in the fraudulent Centrax REIT.

Prosecutors claimed that when another customer attempted to cash out of the Centrax REIT in 2014, Speakman recommended that a third client invest $200,000 in gold, using those proceeds to pay off the initial REIT customer instead of investing in any gold products.

The findings state that Speakman raised $1,192,450 during the 14-year life of his fraudulent scheme. FINRA barred Speakman (CRD #2693667) in 2016.

If you have invested with former Ameriprise Financial representative Mark Francis Speakman or with any broker or financial adviser whose fraudulent misrepresentations or recommendations to invest in fake products has proven harmful to your investments or interests when the representative failed to execute such an investment, please call The Law Offices of Jonathan W. Evans & Associates at (800) 699-1881 for an investigation and consultation.

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