September 24, 2015
According to the FBI, beginning in January 2012 and continuing through September 2013, Wade Lawrence allegedly engaged in a scheme to defraud and obtain funds from individuals with whom he had longstanding personal and business relationships and who trusted him. He falsely offered for sale various investments, including real estate ventures and securities outside the brokerage accounts at Southwest Securities. He also offered interests in what he represented were a high-risk investment in options on the Volatility Index (VIX) on the Chicago Board Options Exchange. Lawrence also allegedly solicited funds from several individuals by misrepresenting they would be invested in a duplex. He falsely represented to other investors that their money would be invested in various securities such as in Facebook and Southwest Securities. According to documents filed in the case, from June 2008 through July 2011, Lawrence worked as a securities broker for Oppenheimer & Co. Inc. in Dallas and was active in conducting trades in his customer brokerage accounts. In 2010 and 2011, Lawrence began to lose significant amounts of money, both in his client’s’ trading accounts and his individual trading account. In August 2011, Lawrence moved to Southwest Securities in Dallas, where his trading losses continued.
Lawrence allegedly represented to investors that their investments would return anywhere from 20 to 100 percent, and that it was possible to double their investment. In each case, he directed the investor to mail or wire-transfer funds to his personal account at Wells Fargo Bank, instead of a Southwest Securities account, giving various explanations for this, including that he was trying to start his own VIX fund and needed to establish a history for the fund. Lawrence, however, only invested some of the investors’ money as represented. Instead, he spent several hundred thousand dollars of the proceeds for personal living expenses, including travel, mortgage payments on his Dallas residence, and a $10,000 piece of jewelry. In total, Lawrence obtained over $2 million from the scheme. He returned approximately $581,034 to some of the investors.
Lawrence faces a maximum statutory penalty of five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine or twice any pecuniary gain to the defendant or loss to the victims. In addition, Lawrence agrees to forfeit $1,542,966 in proceeds traceable to the offense in the form of a money judgment and proceeds from the sale of his residence. Lawrence will remain on bond pending sentencing.