COLUMBUS (WJW) — Victims of a former Westlake investment adviser’s $9.3 million dollar Ponzi scheme are now eligible to get some of their money back.

Wednesday, The Ohio Department of Commerce Division of Securities announced the official launch of the Investor Recovery Fund.

The fund was created through a bill Gov. Mike DeWine signed in 2021. Since then, state leaders have spent time creating an online claims portal and solidifying the application process.

Through the fund, eligible financial crime victims can recover up to 25% of their monetary loss, with a maximum cap of $25,000.

In August, Raymond Erker, a former investment adviser who worked in Westlake, was handed a 22-year prison sentence for stealing from at least 54 investors.

Evidence showed Erker sold investments to clients that he misrepresented as annuities and senior secured notes that were without risk and had guaranteed rates of return.

Erker and codefendants Kevin Krantz and Tara M. Brunst, both of Olmsted Falls, diverted funds to “other entities that they controlled” and their personal bank accounts, according to a news release from Acting U.S. Attorney Michelle M. Baeppler in Ohio’s Northern District federal court.

During Wednesday’s announcement in Columbus, Ohio Securities Commissioner Andrea Seidt said zero taxpayer dollars will be used for the Investor Recovery Fund. Seidt said all of the money comes from the Division of Securities’ excess operating revenue and cash reserves. 

“Starting this year, the Division of Securities added $2.5 million to the fund to pay out claims and will add another $2.5 million every year thereafter, as needed, to provide financial assistance to eligible victims of securities fraud,” Seidt said.

Vivian McLaughlin, the daughter of two of Erker’s victims, also spoke during Wednesday’s announcement saying Erker’s crimes had a life-shattering impact on not only her parents, but all 54 clients.

“Some having to go back to work in their late 70s and early 80s to afford basic life expenses such as food, housing, and medications. Others, now being dependent upon their children, but all dealing with the monumental depletion of income and the uncertainty for their futures, and their loss of peace of mind,” McLaughlin said.

To be eligible for relief, a victim must be an Ohio resident, have lost money in a case the Ohio Department of Commerce’s Division of Securities investigated, and resulted in a final order against the defendant on or after Sept. 30, 2021.

The claims portal is available on the Ohio Department of Commerce website.