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February 05, 2013

Fla. Charity Heads Accused of $75-Million Gift-Annuity Scam

The Securities and Exchange Commission filed a federal lawsuit Monday alleging that the heads of a Florida nonprofit organization sold more than $75-million worth of bogus charitable gift annuities, defrauding hundreds of investors, reports the Tallahassee Democrat.

The S.E.C. complaint said older people were the primary victims of the alleged scam run by Richard and Susan Olive via We The People Inc. of the United States, a charity that was founded in 1987 to promote nuclear safety but had been largely dormant for years before the Vero Beach, Fla., couple took it over in 2008.

The Olives "essentially hijacked We The People ... and used it as a vehicle to raise money, not for charity, but for themselves," the federal agency said in a statement.