Dawn Bennett’s Witchcraft Coudn’t Protect Her From Legal Trouble
Former radio personality Dawn Bennett, 54, who hosted “Financial Myth Busting with Dawn Bennett,” is in serious legal trouble ever being caught in a scheme in which she was able to pocket half of what she raised from listeners over a span of two and a half years. She was charged on Monday with fraudulently raising $20 million.
Barron’s magazine named Bennett three times to its lists of top financial advisers, showing her managing more than $1 billion in client assets. Her firm first appeared in Barron’s in 2009 on its list of “Top 100 Women Financial Advisors.” Bennett ranked fifth. Later that year, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) contends she made another submission to Barron’s for its list of “Top 100 Independent Financial Advisors” and she was ranked 26th. Part of Bennett’s legal woes relates to her repurposing her rankings on the Barron’s lists, according to the SEC.
The money Bennett raised was taken primarily from elderly or unsophisticated investors. An investigation headed by Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Keith Custer discovered at least 46 investors who were promised annual returns as high as 15 percent. At least two of those clients claim they lost more than $1 million. The money was actually used to repay Bennett’s initial investors, buy luxuries such as shoes and other apparel and pay back rent to the Dallas Cowboys for a premium suite at AT&T Stadium.
A search of Bennett’s home also revealed the odd way in which Bennett planned to fend off legal trouble. Two freezers containing sealed Mason jars labeled with the initials of SEC attorneys upon which Bennett was hoping to cast a “hoodoo spell” (or “voodoo spell”) to keep from discovering her scam. The spell was specifically referred to as a “Beef Tongue Shut Up Hoodoo Spell”. Custer said these call for a spell-caster to say the name of the person targeted followed by “I cross and cover you[,] come under my command[.] I command you to hold your tongue.” Evidently, it didn’t work.
At a hearing in February, the SEC sought a cease-and-desist order against Bennett, as well as a permanent ban from the securities industry and $4 million in fines and disgorgement. She was officially banned from the industry in July 2016 after she protested the enforcement case against her by ignoring it and skipping out on the administrative hearing, choosing not to defend herself. “When you don’t show up, that usually means you’ve got nothing left,” said David Chase, a former SEC enforcement attorney.
A statement that was posted on Finra’s BrokerCheck in response to the SEC’s investigation said, “Ms. Bennett denies all allegations of any wrongdoing. She will vigorously defend this case at the earliest possible moment but in the proper forum. When all the facts come to light, not just those the SEC chooses to focus on, Ms. Bennett anticipates she will be completely vindicated.”
Bennett was formally charged with bank and wire fraud as well as making fraudulent statements on loan and credit applications. Civil charges were also filed against her company DJB Holdings LLC, a luxury sports apparel company operating as DJBennet.