140619_HER07_14Martha Jo Ennis

Age: 81
Hometown: Marion
Cause: Raising awareness about financial scams

Ennis, a retired elementary school teacher, trusted her financial adviser Noah Aulwes enough to invest with him everything she had — her retirement savings and an inheritance. She had no cause for alarm about Aulwes, a charming, church-going man, until 2008. That’s when she discovered that $40,000 she’d promised to her church was no longer in her investment account. It turned out that Ennis was just one of the victims of a Ponzi scheme run by Aulwes, who in 2012 pleaded guilty to securities fraud and other charges and was sentenced to up to 10 years in jail. Ennis, who lost $1 million to Aulwes, was determined not to let this happen to others. So while many victims of scams are too embarrassed to go public with their experience, Ennis agreed to serve as the public face of a state anti-fraud campaign. Says Iowa Insurance Commissioner Nick Gerhart, “Having a real face and voice unashamedly telling about her experience is an invaluable asset for the cause of protecting vulnerable Iowans.”

Says Ennis:

A lot of people say, ‘I’ve seen you on TV. I knew these scams went on, but I never knew how easy it was to fall for them.’”

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