The good Samaritan William Neil “Doc” Gallagher was actually a Ponzi artist defrauding the Texas Christian community.
He was sentenced to 25 years in 2019. A state court has sentenced to an additional three life sentences plus 30 years.
The good Samaritan image
Gallagher was the Texas “Money Doctor” radio host, advertising Christian values with the tag line “See you in church on Sunday”. He also paid for shows on 4 radio stations. He was larger than life, appearing with famous individuals (Gov Rick Perry, former Gov Mike Huckabee, American author Zig Ziglar…). He wrote books, like “Jesus Christ, Money Master”. He personally helped listeners, giving phone calls and sending cards.
Gallagher was recommending to move assets slowly. The first annuities invested with small amounts were paying well. There was no selling pressure; he would keep checks for weeks before cashing them. Then he would advise to invest into his own company – “you can roll your 401(k)”. He would guarantee the 5%-8% returns with his own wealth. It was a “retirement income you’ll never outlive.”
Then he would help you manage your taxes and your finances. He was “a provision sent from God” to help people’s finances. The government can’t be trusted. He would visit you in hospital with flowers and pray God with you. He was quoting scriptures. He would officiate weddings. He would hug you. He was a good man.
The Ponzi scam reality
The reality was quite different.
- Gallagher had a PhD in theology; he worked in the financial industry for decades; he had the Series 7, 63 and 24; he was advertising safe and proper investments; but he had no license to give financial advice.
- “He knew what to say and how to say”. He would play on elders’ fears, their need for safety: “I will take care of your spouse if you pass away”. He would target the sick.
- In reality, he was orchestrating a Ponzi. There was only one demonstrated investment during all those years.
- He received a demonstrated $29.2 million from 60 investors between 2014 and 2019, but the numbers probably run to $60m, if not $100m. $5.9m went to redemptions. Several others for payroll, a lot of advertising costs, and some legal costs. He wrote in his book that he had stashed money abroad. By January 31, 2019, the account held only $800,951.
- Many of his victims had to take jobs in retirement to make ends meet, or postpone retirement. Sick people died.
- Investors may get 8 cents on the dollar.
- “He took advantage of some of the most vulnerable people in our society,” said prosecutor Alexis Goldate. “He targeted elderly investors and individuals attracted to his Christian ideals and then stole from them.”
- The SEC charged him in March 2019. He was arrested in March 2019 and indicted in August 2019. The assets were frozen and handled by an attorney.
- He received 25 years in Dallas County, as part of a negotiated guilty plea. He was ordered to restitute $10m.
- State District judge Elizabeth Bleached just sentenced him to another 3 life sentences and 30 years.
Any investment needs both:
- Investment Due Diligence (IDD), aka does the strategy makes sense?
- and Operational Due Diligence (ODD), aka is the provider who he says he is?
especially when dealing with complex and wonderfully-looking strategies. Ponzi scammers go after their friends. They have no morals. When it’s too good to be true, it probably is. Start with FINRA’s broker check.
- SEC, March 12, 2019: SEC Charges Texas Radio Host “The Money Doctor,” Halts Ponzi Scheme Targeting Elderly Investors
- Associated Press, April 2, 2020: Radio host ‘The Money Doctor’ gets 25 years for Ponzi scheme targeting show listeners
- AARP, July 24, 2020, [The Perfect Scam Podcast]: ‘The Money Doctor’ Stole Millions in a Ponzi Scheme Part 1.
- AARP, July 31, 2020, [The Perfect Scam Podcast]: Clients Learn the Truth About the ‘Money Doctor’ and His Ponzi Scheme, Part 2.
- Associated Press, November 2, 2021: Radio host gets 3 life prison terms for bilking listeners
- FINRA Broker check: William Neil Gallagher