An Army Reserve major who allegedly abused his position as an Army financial counselor to defraud Gold Star families has been indicted, officials announced July 7.
Caz Craffy, who also goes by “Carz Craffey,” was charged with 10 counts, including six counts of wire fraud, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey.
“Stealing from Gold Star families whose loved ones made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our nation is a shameful crime,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in the statement. “Predatory conduct that targets the families of fallen American service members will be met with the full force of the Justice Department.”
Craffy allegedly used his position as a financial adviser to encourage Gold Star families to invest their survivor benefits in investment accounts he managed as part of his outside, private employment. Many of the grieving families mistakenly believed that these actions were done on behalf of and with the Army’s authorization, the Justice Department said.
As a result of the alleged scheme, which officials say involved excessive and risky trades, the families lost a fortune while Craffy pocketed high commissions.
The Washington Post first reported on Craffy’s purported misdeeds in February, shedding light on the potential need for greater oversight of the military’s financial counselors, which has since earned attention in Congress.
Craffy began his Army Reserve service in June 2003, according to a service verification form shared with Military Times. He deployed during Operation Iraqi Freedom and remains assigned to the 353rd Civil Affairs Command, which is based out of New York, the record shows.
His time as a financial counselor for the Army’s Survivor Outreach Services began in November 2017, but his employment with the Army ended January 4, Bryce Dubee, an Army spokesperson, told Military Times via email.
“We are not able to comment on the specifics of his departure due to Privacy Act restrictions,” Dubee added.
In his role, Craffy was responsible for providing general financial education to surviving beneficiaries. However, without telling the Army, Craffy simultaneously maintained outside employment with two separate financial investment firms, the Justice Department said.
Between roughly May 2018 and November 2022, Craffy received millions from Gold Star families to invest in accounts he privately managed, the department said. During that time he allegedly executed trades repeatedly without the families’ authorization. The Gold Star family accounts lost more than $3.4 million, while Craffy personally raked in more than $1.4 million in commissions drawn from the family accounts, the Justice Department said.
In one particularly egregious offense, Craffy misappropriated $50,000 from the account of a minor whose parent died on active duty, the Securities and Exchange Commission said in a release.
Following reporting from the Post, lawmakers on Capitol Hill introduced an amendment to the House version of the annual defense bill that seeks to require financial counselors employed by the Department of Defense to submit disclosures to ensure they do not have conflicts of interest. Whether the amendment will make it into the final version of the National Defense Authorization Act remains to be seen.
Craffy is now barred from association with any member of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, and faces a lengthy prison sentence and substantial fines if convicted.
The wire fraud and securities fraud charges are each punishable by a maximum of 20 years in prison, the Justice Department said. The SEC also filed a civil complaint against Craffy based on the same and additional conduct.
Military Times requested comment from Craffy via social media but did not immediately hear back. Craffy’s attorney Mark A. Berman declined Military Times’ request for comment.
Jonathan is a staff writer and editor of the Early Bird Brief newsletter for Military Times. Follow him on Twitter @lehrfeld_media