Former Counselor Acknowledges Preying On Bereaved Gold Star Families To The Tune Of About $10 Million

( — A US Army financial counselor pleaded guilty last week for scamming Gold Star families out of millions of dollars through a benefits investment scheme, CBS News reported.

In an April 16 press release, the Justice Department said Caz Craffy, 41, pleaded guilty to multiple charges, including wire fraud, securities fraud, making false statements on a loan application, and making false statements to a federal agency.

Craffy was a civilian employee at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey from November 2017 until January 2023, working in its Casualty Assistance Office. He was primarily responsible for informing beneficiaries of fallen soldiers about their financial options. The beneficiaries of soldiers killed in combat could receive as much as $500,000 from the Army.

According to the Justice Department, as a military financial counselor, Craffy was prohibited from offering advice to Gold Star families that was based on his personal opinions. However, Craffy was operating a private investment firm on the side and secretly encouraged Gold Star families to invest their benefits into accounts he managed without the Army’s knowledge.

Most of his victims assumed that Craffy was offering this advice in his role as the financial counselor and with the approval of the US Army.

Craffy steered over $9.9 million in benefits from Gold Star families into accounts that he was using to make trades, for which he earned a commission, without their consent and not always in their best interests.

In total, Gold Star families were bilked out of $3.7 million in the scheme, while Craffy raked in over $1.4 million in commissions that he took from their accounts.

According to the Justice Department, as part of his plea agreement, Craffy admitted the details of his crimes.

Craffy was indicted in July 2023.

According to the Justice Department, he faces a maximum of 20 years in prison for each of the wire fraud charges alone. The other charges come with maximum penalties of between two and five years in prison.

Craffy could also face fines of between $250,000 and $5 million.

He is scheduled to be sentenced on August 21.

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