Retirement Funds Vanish as Bankruptcies Hit Tax-Deferred Scheme

By Erik Larson

Sept. 11 (Bloomberg) — Marsha Slotten’s bad news came in April by e-mail, from a tipster warning that the company holding her retirement nest egg had collapsed.

After racing in a panic to the office of Southwest Exchange Inc. outside Las Vegas, she found a locked door and a sign saying the staff was “in training.” It never reopened.

“I was devastated,” said Slotten, 58, who said she was forced to cancel early retirement after the disappearance of $2.74 million she made selling a strip mall. “I thought I knew what I was doing, but now my nest egg, my retirement plan, is gone.”

The real estate broker is among hundreds of investors who lost the proceeds of property sales because two companies went bankrupt during criminal investigations.

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