A retired U.S. Navy chief petty officer is accused of targeting current and former members of the military in a fraudulent investment scheme that raked in more than $350,000. Robert L. Murray, Jr., also is accused of spending half the funds on gambling and other personal expenses, according to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
From September 2020 through January 2022, Mr. Murray solicited prospective investors in a Facebook group for service members and veterans for a fund he controlled called Deep Dive Strategies, LLC. He convinced 44 investors in 14 states that the fund would focus on publicly traded securities, the SEC said Thursday.
“As a retired Navy Chief, Murray knew and took advantage of the trust in Navy Chiefs that is developed through service and special naval training,” the SEC’s criminal complaint stated.
The fund lost much of the brokerage account in January 2021 when he made a bet on risky investments that had the potential to lose all value within 24 hours, which they ultimately did. The account was left with $161.98, which Mr. Murray withdrew on Feb. 4, 2021, SEC officials said.
“Murray’s foray into trading securities for the fund was brief and unsuccessful,” the SEC said in the complaint. “In under a month, Murray lost almost all the fund’s money he used to trade securities.”
Mr. Murray began spending investor money on his personal expenses from the start, regulators said. He shuffled funds into his personal checking account. In at least one case, he spent several hundred dollars at a jewelry store using the fund’s debit card and went on several gambling trips to casinos in Indiana, Wisconsin and Ohio, regulators said.
“Murray continued using the account for personal expenses, depositing and withdrawing personal funds, until only $1 remained as of February 2022,” the SEC complaint stated.