Aug 12, 2015 6:18 PM
CONCORD – Six New Hampshire residents - all of them at or near retirement age - had their savings stolen by a man who turned out to be an imposter.
Robert Higgins of Stratham called himself an investment adviser, but he wasn’t licensed by the state.
He made up phony paperwork and it turns out, it wasn't even worth the paper it was printed on.
He lulled his victims into a false sense of security stole more than $600,000 dollars of their hard-earned money.
One of those victims, Martha Seigars of Boscawen.
“He wasn't sorry that he ruined peoples' lives,” Seigars said. “He wasn't sorry he stole from them. He was sorry he got caught.”
Seigars said she tries not to think about the scam but instead spends her time out in the garden.
She was a single parent most of her life, and she said she saved any extra money from every paycheck.
She called that, “a sense of security.”
But then she met Higgins.
“He was very polite,” she said. “Very mannered. Very charming.”
And for seven years, the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office said he bilked her and the five other New Hampshire residents out of the more-than-$600,000.
When we asked her how much she gave him, she told us, "$90,000.”
But when she eventually called looking for some of her investment dividens, she said Higgins sent her a $400 check.
“I gave it to my husband to cash, and it bounced,” Seigars said. “That's when I knew something - uh-oh - was wrong.”
She said Higgins said he was sorry and then proceeded to send her another bad check.
We asked her - before those bounced checks - if she ever believed that anything was wrong.
She said, “no.” We asked her if anything ever tipped her off. Once again, she said, “no.” And then asked all that time (seven years?) “All that time,” she replied.
Higgins told her he was investing her money, and that he'd make it worth her while, but the Attorney General’s office said Higgins stole as much as 90% of all the victims’ money, and that it was all about poor investing and taking any profits for himself.
We asked Robert Adams, an Assistant Attorney General for New Hampshire, if he considered Higgins a fraud to which he quickly replied, “He was a fraud.”
Adams said he even gave the victims fake certificates and statements and lied to them so they thought they were investing in the real deal but instead, any money he made went to him.
And did we mention he wasn’t even who he said he was?
“He gave them numerous false and misleading statements, including that he was a registered investment adviser when he was not,” Adams said. “Indeed, in the years in which he made money, he used the investors' funds to pay his personal tax liability.”
Seigars said, “He (Higgins) told me I was making money. He told everybody they were making money.”
The Attorney General’s office said that it’s unfortunate Seigars and the others won't ever get their money back.
“The cushion that they hoped would carry them through their later years has been wiped out,” Adams said.
Seigars said she won’t accept any apology.
“He wasn't sorry that he ruined peoples' lives,” she said. “He wasn't sorry he stole from them. He was sorry he got caught.”
Higgins was convicted on two felony counts.
One for lying to the victims to get their money in the first place and second for giving them more than 100 fraudulent statements.
He’s been sentenced to 5- to 14-years in prison and must repay all of his victims.
Finally, Higgins can never get into the so-called brokerage business in the state ever again.
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