He doesn’t know how lucky he’s got it, living behind bars in America. In China this week, a 39-year old businesswoman received the death sentence for running a $70 million Ponzi scheme – pocket change next to the billions Mr. Madoff stole. Click here to read more from The Wall Street Journal.
“Society has been caused great harm and the crime deserves to be severely punished,” read a statement from the court.
Taking someone’s life savings is not far removed from murder. In the Old West, judges used to hang horse thieves because stealing one’s horse often meant stealing one’s livelihood, and sometimes even leaving one stranded in the wilderness.
The destruction Ponzi schemers leave in their paths often includes suicides. In Mr. Madoff’s case, one of those suicides involved his own son.
It’s tough sleeping in prison, but at least when Mr. Madoff goes to sleep he knows he’s going to wake up.
Posted by Al Lewison April 19, 2013 Mr. Ponzi /
Many of us come to a point in our lives when we trust someone else to manage our investments.
For real estate investor Bill Marvel of Grand Junction, Colo., this was a pathway into an alleged Ponzi scheme.
As a pilot Mr. Marvel says he would never yield control of his plane to someone else, yet he did it with $3.5 million he invested through a company called DBSI Inc. in Meridian, Utah.
Mr. Marvel is a former astronautical engineer and has been investing in apartment buildings for 30 years. He says he took every precaution before investing in DBSI. He hopes his story will serve as a lesson to others: When it comes to investing, never take your hands off the stick.
“DBSI essentially operated like a Ponzi scheme … almost entirely dependent on funds from new investors to pay old investors,” according to an indictment from a federal grand jury in Boise, Idaho, last week.
Click here to read my column on MarketWatch. And click here to read more details about the case against DBSI from the Associated Press.
One of the ways Ponzi schemers get their hands on retirement accounts is to advise their victims to place their savings in a self-directed individual retirement account, the Securities and Exchange Commission and North American Securities Administrators Association warn.
“Fraud promoters who want to engage in Ponzi schemes or other fraudulent conduct may exploit self-directed IRAs because they permit investors to hold unregistered securities and the custodians or trustees of these accounts likely have not investigated the securities or the background of the promoter,” the regulators warn in a joint statement. Click here to read it.
The advice comes a little late for Patricia White, 66, of California. She claims in a federal lawsuit that her retirement savings was taken in a self-directed IRA that was directed into a Ponzi scheme. Her lawsuit is not only against the man she claims took her money but The Entrust Group of Oakland, Calif., which administers nearly $2 billion in self-directed IRA funds. An attorney for Entrust said the company denies the allegations.
Click here to read my column on Ms. White’s lawsuit on MarketWatch.
Posted by Al Lewison March 22, 2013 Mr. Ponzi /
Craig Berkman spent his career on the that sometimes lucrative corner of politics and business.
He served as chairman of the Republican party in Oregon, even ran for governor in that state, and founded several investment funds over the years.
Now, at 71 years of age, he’s accused of essentially running a Ponzi scheme, promising investors an early shot at the stocks of Facebook, LinkedIn, Groupon and Zynga.
Click here to read my column on MarketWatch. Click here to read civil charges against him filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission. And click here to read more from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York, which had Mr Berkman arrested this week.
Angela Shaw came face-to-face with history’s second-largest Ponzi schemer, R. Allen Stanford, and tells about it in my column.
Shaw, whose family lost $4.5 million to Stanford, is the volunteer director of the Stanford Victim’s Coalition and a champion for all Stanford victims.
She has been so dogged that someone made this faux movie poster in her honor.
But the fight is far from over.
So far Stanford victims have collected little to none of the money they invested in bogus Stanford certificates of deposit.
The Securities and Exchange Commission has sued the Securities Investor Protection Corporation, demanding it pay Stanford claims. SIPC has argued that while parts of the Stanford empire are covered by SIPC, the Antiguan bank that issued his dubious CDs isn’t.
Meantime, liquidators hired by the island nation have sued the U.S. Department of Justice attempting to assert their own control on Stanford’s frozen funds.
When you get right down to it, church is a business, and what business can succeed by constantly telling people “blessed are the poor”?
The churches attracting the biggest crowds are the ones that are telling people what they want to hear. Instead of take up your cross, they’re saying take out your checkbook. They’re saying those who are faithful to God – which includes dropping big bucks in their offering plate – will be amply rewarded.
Many ministries promise a hundred-fold blessing.
This is “The Prosperity Gospel,” and it’s been preached for decades. It hardly jibes with what the Bible says, i.e. love of money is the root of all evil. It has led to one pulpit scandal after the next. And it has made church a fertile field for Ponzi schemers.
Click here to read my column in The Sunday Wall Street Journal. And click here to read about Ephren W. Taylor II, the son of a preacherman who allegedly targeted church congregations with a Ponzi scheme.
Posted by Al Lewison April 18, 2012 Mr. Ponzi /
Before the Securities and Exchange Commission accused him of running a Ponzi scheme, Ephren W. Taylor II was some preacher.
This YouTube video offers a lively sample of his “Prosperity Gospel” preaching. He promised investors big returns investing in socially responsible investments. An attorney who represents his many victims, estimates he allegedly swindled more than 500 people out of $30 million to $50 million.
Posted by Al Lewison March 30, 2012 Mr. Ponzi /
What if you put a big chunk of your retirement in Certificates of Deposit, and then found out it was a $7 billion Ponzi scheme, cleverly disguised as CDs.
Richard Cochran, 79, is just one of thousands duped by convicted Ponzi schemer Allen Stanford. He thought his bank deposits were insured by the Securities Investor Protection Corporation.
The Securities and Exchange Commission has asked SIPC to accept claims from Stanford victims, but SIPC argues the CDs Stanford issued from a bogus bank in Antigua aren’t covered. The matter is about to be decided by a judge. Meantime, Cocharan is look for work in the construction industry as he approaches 80 years of age.