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Belmont Man Charged with Running Retirement Ponzi Scheme

Jack Cranney of Concord Avenue allegedly took millions from elderly investors including his sister, according to Secretary of State.

A Concord Avenue man was charged by the state's secretary of state for allegedly running a retirement investment Ponzi scheme that defrauded three dozen older investors including his elderly sister of more than $10 million.

In a news release dated Tuesday, July 24, Secretary of the Commonwealth William F. Galvin said that John "Jack" Cranney of 885 Concord Ave. "abusing his connections through family, friends and Shaklee, a multilevel marketing system of independent distributors for health and nutrition products, to perpetrate the fraud."

The alleged victims reside in 13 states with 10 living in Massachusetts, according to Galvin's office. The 36 investors handed over between tens of thousands to millions of dollars to Cranney to invest, according to the Boston Business Journal.

Despite not holding a broker's license, Cranney allegedly set up five entities, through which he sold unregistered securities in the form of promissory notes.

Cranney is well known in the sales field for being the salesman who brought Shaklee, a California health and nutrition distributor, to the East Coast. Involved with the company for 45 years, he has sponsored 50,000 Shaklee distributors across the nation.

According to websites under his name, Cranney and his wife conduct training seminars and create support material on building a successful network marketing business.

In fact, while he was being charged, Cranney was scheduled to hold the third of four web-inars (registration includes a $79 fee) at 8 p.m. on how to grow a Shaklee business.

Biographical material online state that Cranney was one of the first in the US Army to receive a Green Beret and he is an active private pilot.

Seven plaintiffs are suing Cranney in U.S. District court, claiming aggregate losses in the millions.

In separate civil suits, two Massachusetts investors have obtained attachments of $250,000 and $200,000 on Cranney's $3.8 million Belmont Hill house, according to Galvin's news release.

This is the second time the resident has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. In May, domestic workers and workers' rights advocates held a protest in Belmont Center calling on Cranney to pay back wages to five workers. They alleged Cranney refused to pay for the house work and home care they provided for him and his wife.

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