Office of Public Affairs | U.S. Army Financial Counselor Pleads Guilty to Defrauding Gold Star Families

A New Jersey financial counselor with the U.S. Army and major in the U.S. Army Reserves pleaded guilty today to defrauding Gold Star families and related crimes.

Caz Craffy, also known as Carz Craffey, 41, of Colts Neck, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Georgette Castner in Trenton, New Jersey, to six counts of wire fraud and one count each of securities fraud, making false statements in a loan application, committing acts affecting a personal financial interest, and making false statements to a federal agency.

“Those who target and steal from the families of fallen American servicemembers will be held accountable for their crimes,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “Nothing can undo the enormous loss that Gold Star families have suffered, but the Justice Department is committed to doing everything in our power to protect them from further harm.”

“Caz Craffy admitted today that he brazenly took advantage of his role as an Army financial counselor to prey upon families of our fallen service members, at their most vulnerable moment,  using lies and deception,” said U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger for the District of New Jersey. “These Gold Star families have laid the dearest sacrifice on the altar of freedom. And they deserve our utmost respect and compassion, as well as some small measure of financial security from a grateful nation. We will use every means at our disposal to ensure that those who defraud our military families are held accountable. Caz Craffy now faces the prospect of years in prison for ripping off these families to line his own pocket.”

“Those who prey on the family members of fallen soldiers, will be sought out and held accountable,” said Special Agent in Charge Joel Kirch of the Department of the Army Criminal Investigation Division Northeast Field Office. “The hard work, long hours, and dedication of our partners within the Task Force, from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS), FBI, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and our own investigative analyst, resulted in this investigation’s swift resolution.”

“The families of service members who lost their lives while serving their country deserve to be treated with compassion, dignity, and respect by individuals entrusted to assist them in obtaining survivor benefits,” said Principal Deputy Director James R. Ives of DCIS. “Today’s announcement reflects DCIS and our law enforcement partners’ steadfast commitment to holding accountable those who use their official positions to take advantage of grieving military families.”

“Gold Star families are given a title no one would choose because it means they’ve paid the ultimate sacrifice for this country,” said Special Agent in Charge James E. Dennehy of the FBI Newark Field Office. “The soldier, sailor, marine, or airman they loved died during a time of conflict — defending this nation. They are given money and assistance to help ease the burden that comes with losing their loved one, but no amount of money can replace what they’ve lost. Craffey took advantage of his position and defrauded families already going through a tremendous amount of suffering. He is being held accountable, and his victims are seeing justice prevail.”

“Craffy disgraced his entrusted position to care for our nation’s military families when he allegedly took advantage of them during a vulnerable time of grief,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge William S. Walker of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Newark. “No family, especially our Gold Star families, should have to face further heartache after a loved one’s death by having their financial security ripped out from under them by fraudsters.”

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

When a member of the Armed Services dies during active duty, his or her surviving beneficiary, now a member of a Gold Star family, is entitled to a $100,000 payment and the servicemember’s life insurance of up to $400,000. These payments are disbursed to the beneficiary in a matter of weeks or months following the servicemember’s death. To assist the beneficiaries in this time of need, the military provides a number of services to the servicemember’s family, including the assistance of a financial counselor.

From November 2017 to January 2023, Craffy was a civilian employee of the U.S. Army, working as a financial counselor with the Casualty Assistance Office. He was also a major in the U.S. Army Reserves, where he has been enlisted since 2003. Craffy was responsible for providing general financial education to the surviving beneficiaries. He was prohibited from offering any personal opinions regarding the surviving beneficiary’s benefits decisions. Craffy acknowledged that he was not permitted to participate personally in any government matter in which he had an outside financial interest. However, without telling the Army, Craffy simultaneously maintained outside employment with two separate financial investment firms.

Craffy used his position as an Army financial counselor to identify and target Gold Star families and other military families. He admitted to encouraging the Gold Star families to invest their survivor benefits in investment accounts that he managed in his outside, private employment. Based upon Craffy’s false representations and omissions, the vast majority of the Gold Star families mistakenly believed that Craffy’s management of their money was done on behalf of and with the Army’s authorization.

From May 2018 to November 2022, Craffy obtained more than $9.9 million from Gold Star families to invest in accounts managed by Craffy in his private capacity. Once in control of this money, Craffy repeatedly executed trades, often without the family’s authorization. These unauthorized trades earned Craffy high commissions. During the timeframe of the scheme, the Gold Star family accounts lost more than $3.7 million, while Craffy personally earned more than $1.4 million in commissions, drawn from the family accounts.

Craffy faces a maximum penalty of of 20 years in prison for each count of wire fraud and securities fraud, a maximum penalty of of two years in prison for submitting a false statement on a loan application,  and a maximum penalty of five years in prison for the charges of acts affecting a personal interest and false statements to a federal agent. All counts but the securities fraud count are also punishable by a maximum fine of either $250,000 or twice the gain or loss from the offense, whichever is greatest. The securities fraud count is punishable by a maximum fine of either $5 million or twice the gain or loss from the offense, whichever is greatest. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Aug. 21.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has a pending civil complaint against Craffy based on the same and additional conduct. Craffy has been permanently prohibited from association with any member of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc. (FINRA).

The Department of the Army Criminal Investigation Division, DCIS, FBI, and HSI Newark, investigated the case, with assistance from the SEC and FINRA.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Martha K. Nye and Carolyn Silane for the District of New Jersey are prosecuting the case.

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