‘Brazen’ ex-Raymond James rep traveled in style on clients’ dimes: SEC
A widow whose money was being spent on her financial advisor’s luxury vacations was first to catch on to his schemes, according to the SEC.
Mark J. Boucher defrauded clients out of more than $2.2 million over 10 years — money he spent on things like a Chevy Camaro — that he later “brazenly” resold to the client whose assets had footed the bill — and credit card payments toward airfare for his “numerous female companions,” SEC investigators allege.
The regulator charged Boucher, 56, with three counts of fraud in a civil case filed Aug. 25 in the Southern District of California. He’s not currently facing any criminal charges.
The owner of Carlsbad, California-based RIA Strategic Wealth Advisors Group Services, Boucher had previously been affiliated for 16 years with Raymond James Financial Services and, more recently, for three years with SCF Investment Advisors, FINRA BrokerCheck records show. The two firms respectively terminated him in 2016 and 2019, according to the SEC’s complaint.
In May 2019, the widowed client noticed something amiss when American Express sent her a letter notifying her that a payment from her account to Boucher’s credit card company couldn’t be processed, the document states. Boucher lost his job with SCF that same month.
He moved on to misappropriating $1.5 million from a recently deceased client’s estate, according to the SEC. Boucher “forged certain checks in a client’s name, impersonated a client over the phone in order to have authorized a fraudulent wire transfer, told a client he could trust her (while he was stealing her money) and lied and made material omissions to cover up his fraud,” the complaint states.
Boucher didn’t respond to requests for comment at his RIA, which lists $25.7 million in assets under management from more than 50 clients in its latest SEC Form ADV.
A spokeswoman for Raymond James declined to comment. The firm terminated him in 2016 for naming himself as his client’s successor trustee and executor of her will without prior approval by Raymond James, according to the SEC’s complaint.
Representatives for SCF didn’t respond to a phone call to its Fresno, California headquarters. In a separate case earlier this month, SCF agreed to pay $767,000 to settle SEC charges of failing to disclose conflicts of interest relating to cash sweeps and mutual fund recommendations.
In firing Boucher last year, the smaller independent broker-dealer cited his admission that he misappropriated a client's money “to pay various credit card companies,” BrokerCheck shows.
Boucher paid SCF $482,000, and it, in turn, has fully reimbursed the widow for the lost money during his time with the firm, according to the complaint. A client at Raymond James who alleged theft and forgery has also received a settlement from that firm for $542,000, according to Boucher’s detailed BrokerCheck file.
Between 2010 and 2016, Boucher spent more than $125,000 on vacations and travel, including a stay at a five-star resort in Hawaii, the SEC says. The flights for his female companions alone amounted to tens of thousands of dollars, according to investigators. His spending also included routine trips to steakhouses, the document states.
To buy the Camaro ZL1 model in March 2017, Boucher allegedly sold off $60,000 from one client’s account as the client’s mother was dying in the hospital. Then, in September 2018, Boucher sold the car for $52,000 to the same client, according to the SEC.
Boucher’s third victim died in August 2019, the complaint states. Rather than disbursing her trust assets to her chosen beneficiary — an organization providing service dogs to disabled people — Boucher steered the money to his own accounts, according to the SEC.
He even forged a letter in the client’s name days before her death, supposedly providing him with a gift of $1.5 million, according to the complaint. The letter was supposed to convince SEC investigators and the nonprofit that he hadn’t stolen her money, the complaint states.