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Confession of Former Military Financial Advisor: Scamming Bereaved Gold Star Families

A former financial advisor who worked with the US Army has admitted to deceiving grieving Gold Star families by misappropriating millions of dollars in life insurance payouts, as confirmed by the Department of Justice on Tuesday.

Caz Craffy, a resident of New Jersey aged 41, has pleaded guilty to a total of six wire fraud charges and one count each of securities fraud, providing false information in a loan application, engaging in activities that impact personal financial interests, and making false statements to a federal agency.

If convicted, Craffy could face a sentence of 8 to 10 years in prison based on federal guidelines. He has also agreed not to contest a sentence within that range and has committed to full restitution.

The ex-US Army financial advisor, Caz Craffy, confessed to defrauding families of deceased soldiers who were entitled to life insurance benefits.

In the event of a military member’s death during active duty, the surviving beneficiary, typically a Gold Star family member, is eligible for a \(100,000 payment along with the deceased servicemember’s life insurance coverage of up to \)400,000.

Between November 2017 and January 2023, Craffy was tasked with providing financial education to Gold Star families. However, court documents revealed that he exploited his position to target these vulnerable families.

Attorney General Merrick Garland emphasized the Justice Department’s commitment to shielding Gold Star families from further harm, acknowledging that while the damage inflicted cannot be reversed, steps must be taken to prevent future exploitation.

As an employee of the Army serving as a financial counselor within the Casualty Assistance Office and holding the rank of major in the Army Reserve, Craffy was prohibited from expressing personal opinions on beneficiaries’ finances. Additionally, he was barred from involvement in any government matters where he had a personal financial stake.

One of the affected military families, Sharon McCready-Hartz and her daughter Morgan Hartz, along with several others, are pursuing legal action after falling victim to the fraudulent schemes of an Army-appointed financial advisor.

Natasha Cruz-Bevard, pictured with her late husband Rodney C. Bevard at her residence in New Windsor, New York on February 5, 2023.

Craffy acknowledged that he misled Gold Star families into investing in accounts managed by him through his external employment with two financial investment firms. The families mistakenly believed this was sanctioned by the Army.

Between May 2018 and November 2022, Craffy exploited beneficiaries, siphoning off over $9.9 million. He engaged in unauthorized trades, reaping substantial commissions for himself.

While Gold Star family accounts suffered losses exceeding \(3.7 million, Craffy pocketed over \)1.4 million in commissions from their accounts.

William S. Walker, Acting Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Newark, condemned Craffy’s actions, highlighting the betrayal of trust towards military families during their moments of vulnerability.

Craffy entered his guilty plea before US District Judge Georgette Castner in Trenton, New Jersey, with sentencing scheduled for August 21.