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Are We Mostly Crooks? High-Flying Fraudster (Literally) Equals More Bad Publicity For Financial Advisory Profession

Marcus Schrenker is no Bernie Madoff, that's true.

Marcus Schrenker is no Bernie Madoff, that's true. But the Indiana-based financial advisor's saga will dominate the news today in many markets, as it did today, landing on the cover of the New York Post. And with good reason: To elude Indiana regulators, Schrenker attempted to fake his own death and escape to a far-flung paradise. A plot straight out of Hollywood, this is surely another black eye for the financial advisory community.

The 38-year old Schrenker, who ran a registered investment advisory (RIA) called Heritage Wealth Management in Indianapolis, was nabbed on Tuesday by U.S. Marshalls who found him hiding in a northern Florida campground. How he got there is the sensational part.

According to the story in the New York Post, Schrenker hatched his escape plan on Sunday taking off from Indianapolis in his Piper Malibu. He radioed a phony distress call over Alabama then leapt from the plane with a parachute (his plane crashed two hours later in a Florida swamp). Schrenker then trudged through a river and miles of forest before reaching a road and flagging down a passing police car. He told the cops of a "canoeing accident", was benevolently transported to a nearby hotel, quickly changed clothes and ran into the woods. He reappeared at a storage facility seven miles away where he had stashed a Yamaha motorcycle and was off. (Click here to read the Post story.)

Apparently he had a lengthy history of shady dealings—from bankruptcies to receipt of stolen property, securities lawsuits on behalf of individuals and lawsuits from insurance companies claiming he booked hundreds of thousands of dollars in exorbitant annuity commissions. Many of those he sold annuities to were current and former Delta pilots whose retirement accounts he managed, according to the Post story.

Schrenker's world appears to have really caved in when Indiana's Secretary of State raided his $4 million home on New Year's Eve, seizing computers, cash and the rest. That same day his wife filed for divorce.

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