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Retired Navy officer accused of stealing from fellow sailors in investment-fraud scheme, SEC says in lawsuit

Judge's gavel in a courtroom, stack of law books. (wp paarz/Flickr)

A retired U.S. Navy officer scammed fellow military members out of more than $300,000 in an investment-fraud scheme, according to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Retired U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer Robert L. Murray Jr., formerly of North Canton, stole investors funds and violated antifraud and registration regulations, the SEC said in the lawsuit filed in federal court in Akron.

Murray, 42, took some of the money meant for investment trading and used it on gambling trips to casinos in Cleveland and elsewhere. He also lost a “significant amount of money” in the GameStop “meme stock” wave in early 2021, the SEC said.

“Murray used the veneer of trustworthiness created by his U.S. Navy service” to carry out the scheme, according to the filing.

The lawsuit seeks a permanent injunction to stop Murray from ever forming an investment group. It also wants him to pay back any profits he received from the scheme. The SEC also wants a judge to issue a civil penalty.

Court records do not list an attorney for Murray, and attempts to reach him were unsuccessful. He asserted his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination during the SEC’s investigation, the filing says.

Murray carried out the scheme when he lived in North Canton and Chicago, but he has since moved to Anchorage, Alaska, the filing says.

In 2020, Murray used a Facebook group called Goats that contained more than 3,500 current and former Navy officers to post about his success in trading options contracts during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the filing.

He also created a channel on the social media platform Discord, where he posted advice about options trading.

Murray used that following to recruit 44 investors— including some active Navy officers deployed overseas— who paid $355,000 to his investment group called Deep Dive Strategies, LLC, which was formed in North Canton. He solicited the funds from September 2020 through February 2021, according to the filing.

He lost nearly all the money within three months of his first trades, according to the filing.

Murray misappropriated $148,000 by withdrawing money directly from the investment fund or sending the money to his personal bank account. Within three days of getting investors’ money, he used it not for trading but by spending more than $600 at a jeweler.

Investigators also linked large cash withdraws to casino records. On Feb. 2, 2021, he withdrew $10,000 from the investment fund’s account. Nine minutes later, he bought $10,400 in chips at a casino in Cleveland, the filing said.

That happened several other times at casinos in Indiana, Wisconsin and Ohio, according to the filing.

He invested the rest of the money poorly, including in the GameStop stock, the SEC said. In Murray’s final investment, he “bet on deeply risky options contracts” that lost all their value within 24 hours.

Murray by Jan. 23, 2021, lost all but $161.98, which he withdrew from the account in Feb. 4, 2020, the filing says. He left one dollar in the account.

Murray stopped communicating with his investors and rebuffed any attempts by those trying to regain their investment or get an accounting of the funds.

In August 2021, he wrote to investors saying he would return their investments, but he never did.

“As a retired Navy Chief, Murray knew and took advantage of the trust in Navy chiefs that is developed through service and special naval training,” the filing said.


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