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Federal court freezes assets of Colorado Springs investment adviser accused of stealing $2.8 million from clients

August 28, 2017 Updated: August 29, 2017 at 8:02 am
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All assets owned by Colorado Springs investment adviser Sonya Camarco have been frozen by federal court in Denver at the request of the Securities and Exchange Commission, which alleged she stole $2.8 million from about 15 clients and spent it paying her mortgages and credit card bills.

Camarco had been an investment adviser with LPL Financial LLC for about 100 clients until the Boston-based financial services giant fired her Aug. 9, nearly two weeks after it began an investigation that uncovered "several types of suspicious transaction involving Camarco and Camarco's client/customer accounts" starting in 2004.

The SEC lawsuit, filed Aug. 23, also seeks unspecified fines and repayment of all client funds held by Camarco, two companies she controls and a trust for her and her husband that owns five houses in the Springs area, Guffey and Oregon.

Camarco had filed with the Colorado Secretary of State's Office on June 22 to seek a seat on the Lewis-Palmer School District 38 Board of Education before withdrawing Aug. 8 and returning a $175 contribution made by a Palmer Lake retiree. A committee to back her candidacy also was formed and dissolved on the same dates.

She also served from July 2014 to May on the Monument Academy Board of Directors, including as treasurer and president. A statement from the board said she had "no control, either directly or indirectly, of school funds," though she was listed as a signer of several of the school's bank accounts. The statement said she never signed a check, did not order any staff person to transfer funds, provided no investment advice concerning school funds, did not receive reimbursement for any expenses and that the school never invested any funds with LPL.

The SEC alleges in the suit that Camarco "stole money from her clients' accounts and then lied to her clients about the withdrawals," apparently forging client signatures on checks made out to C Investments, an entity she used, and had the checks sent to a private post office box at a UPS store in Parker. The agency also alleged that when confronted by clients, "Camarco lied and told them that C Investments was an outside investment that she made on their behalf." The suit also alleges she lied to LPL that she had no affiliation with C Investments.

Camarco allegedly used the stolen funds to pay $467,740 in credit card bills since February 2016. The Camarco Living Trust, controlled by Camarco and her husband, owns five houses she and her family use, and "at least some of the property was paid for using investor funds and it appears investor funds were used to pay the mortgages on other property," the SEC lawsuit said. The houses are located in the Black Forest area, Monument, Palmer Lake, Guffey, 60 miles west of Colorado Springs in Park County, and Gold Beach in southwest Oregon.

Camarco also worked for Morgan Stanley between 2000 and 2004 and Merrill Lynch between 1993 and 2000.

The SEC suit is pending in Denver federal court. Camarco has not filed a formal answer.

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Contact Wayne Heilman: 636-0234

Twitter @wayneheilman

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