From a diligent business student at Hofstra University to unscrupulous broker, shortly before filing for his first bankruptcy, this is a story of Gary Jay Gross, the man who tricked many of his clients - the man who has been spending investors' money without pause.
Expensive clothes, a Jaguar XJ, a home and country club membership at the Boca Raton Polo Club started raising questions: Where did Mr. Gross get money from? Did he win in a lottery? No!Investigation
The FBI recently launched an investigation into a case that shows losses nearing $20 million in the past decade - the numbers rising with more clients emerging, according to arbitration claims.
It is thought that the self-styled stockbroker has been promising for years to his clients that he was honoring his pledges - in some cases, boasting double-digit returns on their investments.
But what the elderly clients say they didn't know: The charismatic broker was wiping out their accounts in risky, highly volatile securities - losing millions - while racking up huge commissions for himself, according to arbitration complaints.
Along the way, investors say, he falsified reports to cover his tracks and hide the losses.
Some of the clients have even put their homes up for sale, while others are trying to get help from bankruptcy lawyers.
Gross has tried to distance himself from the scandal, resigning in January from the Boca Raton brokerage where he worked for five years. He has not been charged with any crimes.
The firm has paid nearly $3.8 million to some of the former investors.
For now, Gross, age 56, says he doesn't want to talk about the investigation. ''These clients had investments that went down,'' he said. "It's that simple.''
Nearly all Gross' investors said they trusted him, in part because of the devotion he showed to Orthodox Judaism. Sometimes, he would wear his prayer shawl to the office.
Gross spent more than $1 million in the past 18 months, including money going to support his adult sons and for his own household expenses. His credit-card bills show that he paid for everything from iTunes downloads to $500-a-night rooms at the Loews Regency in Manhattan.
Gross said he even bought a new set of teeth for his mother-in-law.