Thomas Caniford of North Canton, Ohio pled guilty today in the Stark County Court of Common Pleas to 19 counts of securities fraud, 72 counts of publishing false investment statements, 20 counts of theft, six counts of theft from the elderly, and 18 counts of selling unregistered securities. The plea follows a referral from the Ohio Division of Securities in conjunction with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the Canton Police Department. Caniford was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

Caniford owned and operated Caniford and Company Capital Management, Inc. and was a general partner in Fundcap Growth Portfolio Limited Partnership, both operating from the same office located in North Canton, Ohio. Caniford convinced his clients to invest in his hedge fund, Fundcap Growth Portfolio, by promising them that the hedge fund would provide a more stable portfolio which would offset market losses. Thirty-four victims, including a local church, lost close to half a million dollars in the scheme.

The scheme was prolonged because of false investment statements that were provided to victims by Caniford and by third-party trust companies administering self-directed Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) for years after Caniford misappropriated the investment funds for personal use and to pay back previous investors.

“Ohio investors should be cautious when investing in unregistered offerings promoted or administered through self-directed IRA custodians and trust companies and should refrain from relying on statements provided for self-directed IRAs without independent verification of value,” Ohio Securities Commissioner Andrea Seidt said. “Self-directed IRA statements provide a veil of legitimacy to cloaked theft and fraud by scammers who can steal a lifetime of hard-earned retirement dollars.”

This case is being prosecuted by Joseph Vance, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney with the Office of John D. Ferrero, Stark County Prosecuting Attorney.

Staff report