Houston man charged in $10m Ponzi scheme

Bill Hightower, 60, of Bellaire, has been indicted on 13 counts for running a Ponzi scheme. He has been charged with wire fraud, mail fraud and money laundering. The lawsuit was filed in the Southern District of Texas.

Mr Hightower is the President of Hightower Capital Group, which he founded in 2010. Prior to founding this company he worked for UBS Financial Services between 2007 and 2013 and Legacy Asset Securities between 2013 and 2015.

He allegedly took money from clients between 2013 and 2018 and made false promises as to their investments. He allegedly told investors their money was being invested in various projects such as restaurants, movies, insurance contracts, among other things.

According to the allegations Hightower used investor funds to pay earlier investors in a Ponzi scheme, pay himself and fund his lifestyle.

Hightower also didn’t tell his clients that the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) had barred him for acting as a broker in October 2015. Hightower had refused to fully respond to a FINRA request for documents and information in connection with allegations that Hightower improperly steered customers to an unapproved private securities investment. This occurred while Hightower was employed at UBS.

In August three Harris County residents filed an inventor action in the divorce proceedings pending between Mr Hightower and his wife. According to the complaint filed, in early July 2018 Hightower defaulted on payments due on one of the annuities that he purportedly bought for his investors. His wife filed for divorce 11 days later, listing real estate properties. The intervenors contend they were purchased with the funds provided by one of the investors, a 78-year-old widow.

3 other civil lawsuits were also filed in Harris County in September against Hightower. All by elderly investors. Two had similar allegations to those noted above. One couple, though, alleged that Hightower liquidated legitimate investments without their knowledge and consent and bought stock in Hightower Capital Group instead.

Records also show that Hightower and his wife filed for bankruptcy in 2005 after a failed business venture.

If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in federal prison for each count as well as monetary fines.


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