Kenneth Wayne McLeod
Getting in good with the government
His 22-year run was even more phenomenal when you considered who McLeod would swindle: in many cases, DEA agents, federal employees, ex-cops—people whose very job was to smell a rat. He told the government that he was a "notable expert in the federal retirement system" who had made between $1,000 and $15,000 for teaching at retirement planning seminars for government employees. He told the Securities and Exchange Commission that he had not been paid in recent years for his services because of budget cuts, and had been doing the seminars for free.
But in the early days of building his companies, F&S Asset Management Group (FSAMG) and Federal Employee Benefit Group (FEBG), it was his infectious braggadocio that convinced many to part with their money.
He met his victims at retirement seminars for government employees. If someone asked him for more information he would zero in on the person and give them more useful information, then hook them into his own company.
His business was double-sided. On one side, he was in fact legitimate, with his seminars, and even his above-board handling of money and investments for his clients—at the end he handled over $43 million for nearly 1200 clients, most of them retired government employees. He legitimately made money off those accounts, charging 1% for a management fee, based on the figures provided by the custodial firms.
The other side of his business was entirely built from shadowy deception.
It was in this way that he earned the trust of people: giving them good advice and securing funds for them legitimately; then, with the other hand, robbing them blind.
FEBG sold itself, according to the Security and Exchange Commission's documents, as a "financial services and benefits consulting firm focused on Federal retirement options," one "dedicated to the complex issues surrounding special group employees, including Law Enforcement Officers, Firefighters, and Air Traffic Controllers."
According to the SEC, McLeod's company specialized in personalized portfolios for these government employees' retirement plans and their financial portfolios. Potential victims would be given a questionnaire telling McLeod everything he needed to know about their financial situation: how much they made, what they had saved, and what was in their 401K. McLeod then knew enough to steal their identity. Instead, he convinced them to give him all of their money. Victims thought McLeod would just be making them extra cash so they could retire even earlier.