Retirement funding is tricky enough without deceptive managers targeting self-directed IRA funds for questionable investments. But that is just what happened in three cases that prompted the SEC to file charges and issue an investor alert. In one case, principals of United American Ventures in Irvine, Calif., allegedly promised guaranteed returns in convertible bonds in medical technology companies, and raised $3.5 million from self-directed IRA users. Another case accused Robert Stinson, principal of Life's Good and Keystone State Capital, of selling fraudulent "units" of private real estate hedge funds. In that case, $9.2 million came from self-directed IRAs. In the third case, Francois Durmaz and Robert Pribilski, principals of USA Retirement Management Services, allegedly ran a Ponzi scheme, persuading retirees in California and Illinois to invest $20 million in what they called Turkish Eurobonds.

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