The Securities & Exchange Commission today charged former U.S. Army financial counselor Caz L. Craffy for defrauding Gold Star family members & others by engaging in unauthorized trading—including of life insurance & family survivor benefits they received following the death of an active duty service member—& for recommending excessive trades & higher risk strategies that did not match customers’ investment profiles.

According to the SEC’s complaint, Craffy, of Colts Neck, New Jersey, was permitted to provide general financial education to service members’ families through his job as a U.S. Army financial counselor. However, as alleged, between May 2018 & November 2022, Craffy used his position & access to manipulate grieving family members by directing them to transfer their benefits into brokerage accounts he managed outside of his official duties with the U.S. Army. Once the funds were deposited, Craffy engaged in unauthorized trading & trading that did not match his customers’ risk profiles & investment objectives & exposed them to higher risks of loss from excessive trading, concentration & lack of diversification. In that 54-month span, Craffy’s customers incurred more than $1.64 million in commissions & fees, most of which Craffy pocketed, while the accounts he managed suffered approximately $1.79 million in realized losses & faced additional unrealized losses of approximately $1.8 million. In one particularly egregious offense, Craffy misappropriated $50,000 from the IRA account of a minor child whose parent had died on active duty.

“Rather than help Gold Star families best use their survivor benefits, we allege that Mr. Craffy manipulated them to profit from their grief,” said Gurbir S. Grewal, Director of the SEC’s Enforcement Division. “We owe an incredible debt of gratitude to these families who have sacrificed so much in service to our country. I am grateful to the SEC staff for holding Mr. Craffy accountable for his shameless conduct & delivering some measure of justice to these incredible families.”

“As our complaint alleges, Craffy repeatedly defrauded families whose loved ones gave the ultimate sacrifice to their country,” said Antonia M. Apps, Regional Director of the SEC’s New York Regional Office. “In so doing, he violated not only the antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws, but the Commission’s Regulation Best Interest as well.  The SEC will aggressively use all tools at its disposal to pursue & hold accountable bad actors who victimize investors whether in the military or otherwise.”

The SEC’s complaint, which was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, charges Craffy with violating the antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws & Regulation Best Interest. The SEC is seeking permanent injunctions, disgorgement of allegedly ill-gotten gains, plus interest, & civil penalties.     

The SEC appreciates the assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey, Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Army Criminal Investigation Division, Defense Criminal Investigative Service, FBI, & Homeland Security Investigations. 

The SEC’s ongoing investigation is being conducted by Michael Ellis, Bari Nadworny, Roseann Daniello, & Ariel Atlas of the SEC’s New York Regional Office, under the supervision of Hane L. Kim of the Retail Strategy Task Force & Sheldon Pollock of the New York Regional Office. Alex Lefferts of the Enforcement Division’s Office of Investigative & Market Analytics assisted with the investigation. The litigation will be led by Hayden Brockett, Ms. Nadworny, & Ms. Atlas. 

The SEC’s Office of Investor Education & Advocacy has information to help service members & their families make informed saving & investing decisions & avoid common scams.