Editors' pick: Originally published April 19.
Ron and Barbara Turner don't go out for dinner these days as they struggle to live on a reduced retirement nest egg.
The Turners invested $277,000 -- half their net worth -- in a penny stock, VGTel Inc., that collapsed in early 2014.
Their accounts had fallen to less than $3,000 by the time the government charged four people, including their investment adviser, with fraud in an indictment unsealed on January 6. By then, the Turners were resigned to a lifestyle where dinners, vacations and other special treats were out of the question.
"We don't do hardly anything," said Ron Turner, 77, when I interviewed him last week. "It's been a heck of an ordeal."
It wasn't the way the Turners, retired and living in Surprise, Arizona, had envisioned their golden years.
The penny-stock swindle that wreaked havoc on the couple's financial security took in more than 100 investors, according to the U.S. Attorney in Manhattan.
A group of 20 of those victims, including the Turners, await a Finra arbitration hearing set to begin Sept. 20. They say that the two financial firms that cleared their trades, Wilson-Davis & Co. of Salt Lake City and COR Clearing LLC of Omaha, ignored red flags that something was amiss.
COR already has settled a complaint with two Ohio investors who sought $1.5 million in compensatory damages for their VGTel losses from a group that included COR, Cleveland broker Larry S. Werbel and Werbel's former employer, Summit Brokerage Services Inc. Werbel, one of the four indicted in January, was the subject of this column on Feb. 9.