The number of Ponzi scams that fell apart increased by nearly four times in 2009, compared to the year, before resulting in over $16.5 billion in investor losses. This figure comes from the Associated Press, which analyzed Ponzi schemes in all US states.
Additional findings from the AP analysis:
• Over 150 Ponzi schemes fell in 2009 • 40 scams collapsed in 2008 • Allen Stanford’s $7 billion international Ponzi scam and Scott Rothstein’s $1.2 billion scheme were among the larger plots that fell apart last year
Bernard Madoff’s $65 billion Ponzi scam wasn’t calculated into last year’s figures because he was arrested at the end of 2008.
In addition to increased enforcement efforts, the economic collapse can be credited with the discovery of many schemes that may have otherwise gone undetected. The number of people willing to invest in new ventures went down in 2009 while current investors rushed to pull out their money. As Ponzi scammers rely on new investors to not only pay the old investors but also fund their expensive lifestyles, many schemes collapsed. The discovery of Madoff’s Ponzi scam has also made investors more wary and regulators more alert.
Another scam of note is Tom Petters’ $3.65 billion scheme. Petters used Petters Group Worldwide, LLC to run his Ponzi scam. He is in prison waiting to receive his sentence. He could be sentenced to a life prison term.
In 2009, the Federal Bureau of Investigation opened over 2,100 securities fraud probes. That’s 350 more investment fraud investigations than the number of investment probes that were opened in 2008. The FBI had 651 agents working on high-yield investment fraud investigations last year. Also in 2009, the US Securities and Exchange Commission issued 82% more restraining orders against securities fraud cases than they did in 2008. Ponzi scams now compromise 21% of the SEC’s enforcement workload-up from 9% in 2005.
The number of civil actions (31) that the Commodity Futures Trading Commission filed last year has more than doubled since 2008. Many securities fraud cases from last year have not yet gone to trial.
Related Web Resources:
AP: Ponzi collapses nearly quadrupled in ’09, Yahoo, December 28, 2009
2009: The Year of the Ponzi, ABC News
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