South Charlotte financial advisor defrauded clients, Northwestern Mutual, feds say

A south Charlotte financial adviser is accused of bilking his clients and a national insurer out of at least a half-million dollars and spending the money on himself, according to a federal grand jury indictment unsealed on Thursday.

Sampson Pearson sold life insurance products and annuities as an independent contractor for Milwaukee-based Northwestern Mutual, public records show. His office was on Morrison Boulevard near SouthPark mall.

According to the indictment, Pearson submitted fake loan applications and annuity distribution requests to the insurance company he represented. His clients had no idea he’d requested the loans and disbursements, according to a bill of indictment signed by federal prosecutors in U.S. District Court in Charlotte.

Pearson defrauded the insurer and at least 10 of his clients out of at least $570,000, according to the bill of indictment. He used his clients’ social security numbers and other forms of identification to pull of the scheme, the bill of indictment states.

The now-banned broker is accused of committing the fraud from 2005 through 2016, according to a warrant filed on June 18 for his arrest. That was the same day the grand jury indicted him, court records show.

The grand jury indicted Pearson on charges of wire fraud scheme, aggravated identity theft and filing false tax returns.

Pearson could not be reached by The Charlotte Observer on Thursday. His last known listed phone number in Charlotte is disconnected.

Northwestern Mutual spokewoman Betsy Hoylman said in a statement to the Observer:

“We take very seriously the trust that our clients place in us. That’s why we immediately brought information to law enforcement when we found discrepancies in Mr. Pearson’s client accounts.

“We have completely reimbursed each affected client, and we have and will continue to fully cooperate with the U.S. Postal Inspector’s and U.S. Attorney’s investigation,” according to the statement.

As of May 31, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority barred Pearson “from engaging in securities or investment banking activity,” according to the authority’s website,

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Joe Marusak has been a reporter for The Charlotte Observer since 1989 covering the people, municipalities and major news events of the region, and was a news bureau editor for the paper. He currently reports on breaking news.