A former Southern California mortgage broker was sentenced to six years in prison today for defrauding an 86-year-old San Francisco woman out of $140,000.

The unusual case began in February 2008, when the woman responded to a mailing from a company in Orange County that was advertising reverse mortgages.

The woman ended up agreeing to obtain a legitimate reverse mortgage from the company through one of its employees, John McTaggart.

According to prosecutors, McTaggart then convinced the woman to sign over $140,000 she received from the reverse mortgage to his company in order for them to invest it for her in annuities through an insurance company. Annuities are typically purchased by investors wanting to receive a minimum income stream during retirement.

However, instead of investing the money, McTaggart deposited the money into his own bank account, prosecutors said. Within a month, he quit his job at the mortgage company and moved to Memphis, Tenn.

McTaggart continued to send the woman monthly $500 “dividend” checks using the money she had invested, but according to prosecutors, she soon caught on to the scheme when she noticed the checks were from McTaggart’s account and not from the insurance company.

Police arrested McTaggart and returned him to California on March 13 of last year.

In December, McTaggart pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree burglary. Prosecutors were able to charge burglary because McTaggart visited the woman in her home when he negotiated the mortgage and annuity deals.

As part of the plea, McTaggart gave a $50,000 check to the woman today and has agreed to pay her the remaining $90,000.

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