Montana fraud victims, including those in Hatzenbeller case, get relief from state fund

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By: Great Falls Tribune Editorial Board

Financial investments all have risk, but when that risk ends up being a thief — and the thief is a friend, professional associate or even a family member — victims lose more than financial security. Trust, confidence, and certainty drain when investors discover an empty bank account or that an “investment” was a scam.

“In white-collar crimes, many times the perpetrator is close to the victim,” Montana Commissioner of Securities & Insurance Spokesman Kyle Schmauch said. “Many times they are older, people who’ve had a lifetime to accumulate assets, who are then taken advantage of.”

That was the case involving Mile City’s Richard Brandt, who was sentenced to 40 years in prison in May for running a $2 million Ponzi scheme. He told investors they would fund a house flipping business. His scam was discovered when a 100-year-old woman he stole $90,000 from was being evicted from the nursing home where she lived for nonpayment.

Brandt’s 18 victims were elderly, mentally impaired, or otherwise vulnerable to exploitation. Every victim was a personal friend or acquaintance.

Read more at the Great Falls Tribune