Victims of Anchorage man accused of scamming 91 Alaskans out of more than $14M speak out
29-year-old Garret Elder and Tycoon Trading LLC accused of defrauding investors, officials suspect more victims
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Dozens of potential victims came forward to the Division of Banking and Securities following the publication by Alaska’s News Source of an alleged fraudulent multi-million-dollar investment scheme, DBS officials said.
“Since your story aired, we are now in touch with people who have made investments by, or on behalf of 91 people, almost all of them from Alaska,” DBS Director Robert Schmidt said. “We have been able to document over $14 million in deposits made with this individual.”
Schmidt says 29-year-old Garret Elder of Anchorage committed fraud by selling what he claimed to be profit-sharing agreements, investment contracts and securities through a business called Tycoon Trading, LLC, located on Old Seward Highway. Last month, Alaska’s News Source published that 39 potential victims reported that Elder had defrauded them out of $7.4 million, according to DBS.
“Certainly, this is the highest profile scam that we’ve had in many years,” Schmidt said.
Schmidt calls this an “affinity scam,” one in which the scammer targets friends and people who interact in the same social circles. He says Elder was very skilled at gaining the trust of people around him.
“This has been devastating to so many Alaskans,” said DBS Senior Investigator Naomi Mitchell.
Jake is an alleged victim of Elder’s scam. Jake and his wife Amy asked that their last names remain concealed. The couple says they invested nearly half a million dollars with Elder’s firm. However, DBS officials believe the majority of their money is gone, along with millions more that others had invested as well.
“I want to know why he did this,” Jake said. “Was he ever going to stop until he got caught?”
Jake says he not only trusted Elder but considered him a close friend.
“I think he feels, maybe, untouchable,” Amy said.
Jake and Amy’s friends Megan and Josh Chelf say they also lost much of their life savings after investing in Elder’s alleged scheme. The couple owned two rental homes and say they had planned to hold onto them until Elder convinced them it would be better to sell one of their homes and invest the earnings with him.
“We gave him $175,000, all the profits we made on our first house,” Megan Chelf said.
Chelf said she and her husband then refinanced another home and gave Elder an additional $60,000 because it appeared their investments with Elder were performing well. Megan and Josh both knew Elder well.
“Before we gave any money, it was a friendship that we felt was genuine and real,” Megan said.
They now believe Elder primarily preyed upon his greatest confidants, those with whom he had developed a high level of trust.
“In fact, he was sitting in this couch,” Jake said. “We were talking to him, and we had like a business meeting, like, ‘how does this work,’ and we reviewed the contracts and he talked about his business model, and we’re like, ‘this seems good.’”
Elder’s former clients say he provided them with financial statements that appeared legitimate, tracking how their investments were supposedly performing. Then, a couple of months ago, they claim Elder confessed to a mutual friend that his investment firm was really just a scheme, and all the money was gone.
Elder’s former friends say he recently began taking frequent trips to Florida and Las Vegas, where he raced Lamborghinis and monster trucks. Now they suspect he was using their money to do it.
“We know that he bought real estate with it,” Schmidt said. “We know that he bought some fancy vehicles with it.”
Neither Elder nor his firm Tycoon Trading LLC were registered with the state, which is required by law, DBS officials said. The agency has issued a cease-and-desist order and is now seeking restitution to the victims in the amount of $14,439,086. It has also imposed additional civil penalties in the same amount and more penalties may be added later.
As of the publication of this article, Elder has not been arrested or charged with a crime. DBS officials say it’s up to law enforcement to take legal action. DBS officials said that it is possible Elder could be arrested and face criminal charges if a grand jury indicts him.
“Ultimately, if your investment advisor is not registered, that’s like going on a fishing trip and your guide doesn’t even have a fishing license,” Schmidt said.
People who trusted Elder now claim he kept searching for more clients — even after he confessed. They fear that if law enforcement doesn’t charge Elder soon, he won’t stop.
“He’s running around, still being a predator,” Amy said. “It’s unacceptable, absolutely unacceptable.”
Elder did not respond to phone calls. We went to his home on King Arthur Circle in Anchorage where his wife answered the door. She said Elder wasn’t home and that she had no comment.
“That was our retirement plan, and so here we are, starting over,” Jake said. “Why is he not behind the slammer? Why is he still out duping people, taking people’s money?”
“I would like him to go to jail,” said Megan Chelf. “I would like for him to have to sit and think about the awful destruction that he’s caused to so many people he loves.”
DBS warns potential investors to make sure they’re working with a registered investment advisor, which can be done by going to Brokercheck.org.
If you, or someone you know, was affected by this, DBS wants to hear from you. Director Robert Schmidt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, and the division can be reached by phone at 907-269-4584, and the division’s financial fraud hotline is 1-888-925-2521.
You can also contact us at 2investigates@ktuu.Com
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