MILFORD, Ohio — Gregory Oliver, owner of Oliver Financial Services in Milford, will spend the next nine years behind bars after he was found guilty of stealing from 18 of his clients, including seniors.
Ohio Department of Insurance Investigators discovered that Oliver did more than advise his clients, claiming he took more than $1.1 million from his clients through fraud and coercion between 2011 and 2018. He was charged with six counts of theft in February.
Cathy Rolfes said her two cousins and their deceased mother were taken for roughly $300,000.
“She trusted (Oliver) as if he were her son. I mean, he attended her funeral. He kind of presented himself as a member of the family,” Rolfes said.
Now, she considers that “family member” a con-artist.
“One of my cousins in particular, he really put themselves in a position of being her power of attorney, her executor,” she said. “He transferred the title of her house into his name and put it into an irrevocable trust. The legal ramifications of that we are still trying to work through.”
Rolfes worked with the Ohio Department of Insurance Investigators and reached out to attorneys at Pro Seniors, a non-profit group trying to help them recover the stolen money. On Monday, Rolfes attended the hearing when Oliver was sentenced to nine years in prison and ordered to pay more than $990,000 in restitution to the victims.
“I do feel like justice was served ... I think the judge truly understood the severity of what he did," she said.
Department of Insurance Assistant Director of Fraud and Enforcement Michelle Rafeld said Oliver’s sentence sends a clear message that stealing from consumers, especially seniors, will not be tolerated.
"The majority of agents are good agents and aren't defrauding their clients. But we will aggressively take action on those who choose to break the law," she told WCPO.
Since many similar situations involve complex financial crimes, Rafeld said some cases can take several years to fully investigate.
"Our investigative staff are well trained in gathering and analyzing information in order to determine if a crime has been committed," she said.
Miriam Sheline, managing attorney at Pro Seniors, said the financial exploitation of seniors is all too common. The attorneys have worked with Rolfes' cousins to file civil lawsuits against Oliver to try and recoup some if not all of what was taken from them.
“This individual was a family friend for many years, and yet he was doing improper things," Sheline said. "You can’t trust someone to the point of just turning over control to everything in regard to your finances.”
The best protection is prevention, Sheline said.
“What we can do is stop the bleeding, stop the damage going forward. But once it is out the door, it is very hard to get it back,” she said.
For more help, Ohio seniors age 60 or older may call to schedule a free phone appointment with an attorney on the Pro Seniors Legal Helpline at (513) 345-4160.