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Stealing from Peter to Pay Paul

I generally think of fraudsters in two buckets. Some are trying to take the money and run. Some are using the ill-gotten money to cover up a prior loss, hoping to earn it all back. I think most ponzi schemes fall into the later category. A splashy fraud case this week highlighted this second type. […]

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Weekend Watching

You may have missed Madoff on ABC this week. It’s four hours on the life of the fraudster, portrayed by Richard Dreyfuss. If you have a few hours this weekend, it’s worth watching. Mr. Dreyfuss does a great job portraying Madoff, capturing him lying, cheating and stealing, but looking upstanding in the eyes of his […]

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marquis properties

The SEC Tries to Shut Down Another Failed Real Estate Investment Scheme

One of the challenges faced by the Securities and Exchange Commission when encountering a real estate scam is finding jurisdiction. The SEC is limited to securities and a real estate investment is not a security. But a real estate investments may involve securities or be a securities-like investment. That is the case the SEC is […]

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poker face

Going All In To Save The Fund

In browsing through enforcement actions I look for lessons learned. In some cases it’s compliance doing its job and stopping a fraud before it gets too big. The case against Owen Li caught my eye. His trades were not working so he made a last ditch effort to make it all back. Given that this […]

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man camp

Is a “Man Camp” a Security?

There was a land rush in North Dakota because of the stuff in the ground. Fracking for shale oil turned towns around the Bakken oil field into boom towns. It takes people to run those rigs, so the local population swelled in size, resulting in a shortage of housing. Some of the housing was minimally […]

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Pyramid Scheme or Ponzi Scheme

The Securities and Exchange Commission brought charges against James Evans for engaging in a “Ponzi scheme.” The names of his scheme caught my eye: Cash Flow Bot and Dollar Monster. After digging around, I was puzzled as to what to call the scheme. A Ponzi scheme purports to be a real investment opportunity, but payouts […]

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Personal Foul Called on Athlete Lending Firm

A professional athlete’s cash flow can be choppy. As an ex-NFL player, Will Allen knew about the cash flow problems. He also realized that fans could be lured into being lenders to professional athletes. It looks like Allen miscalculated the amount of investor interest against athletes looking for loans. The Securities and Exchange Commission charged […]

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How Do You Exit a Ponzi Scheme?

It looks like Bernie Madoff was $45 billion short of funds in his “investment strategy.” How was he ever going to get out of this? The original Ponzi schemer, Charles Ponzi, seems to think he could get out of his situation, at least according to Mitchell Zukoff, author of Ponzi’s Scheme: The True Story of […]

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When a Real Estate Investment Empire Turns Into a Ponzi Scheme

Real estate investment is capital intensive. Most opportunistic and value-add real estate investments are not cash flow positive for the entire ownership of the asset. As some point, an investment may be using equity to pay outstanding interest on debt. The line between a ponzi scheme and long term investment can hinge on the nature […]

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ponzis scheme zuckoff

What Was It Called Before Mr. Ponzi Did It?

When Bernie Madoff’s fraud was exposed it was labeled a Ponzi scheme. Madoff was not investing the money as promised. He was using new investment money to pay old promised returns. I thought it would useful to look back at the original Ponzi scheme to see if offered insight to today’s world of compliance. I […]

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