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Press Release

For Immediate Release
April 1, 2009

Washington D.C.
FBI National Press Office
(202) 324-3691

Highlighting Recent FBI “Ponzi” Scheme Investigations

Given current market conditions, there has been no shortage of Ponzi investment schemes, perpetrators, and victims. These schemes are varied in their methods, but usually lure investors with the false promise of high financial returns or dividends not available through traditional investments.

This type of fraud is named after Charles Ponzi, who operated an enticing scheme in the early twentieth century that guaranteed investors a 50 percent return on their investment in postal coupons. Instead of investing the money he received, Ponzi simply used it to pay “dividends” to initial investors and pocketed the rest himself. The scheme fell apart when investors grew suspicious and funds dried up, making it impossible to make additional payouts and keep the ruse going.

“Too often investors are blinded by dreams of untold wealth,” said Assistant Director Kenneth W. Kaiser of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division. “These schemes highlight the need for law enforcement and regulatory agencies to be ever vigilant of white-collar crime both in boom and bust years. We also want to remind the public to exercise due diligence in selecting investments and the people with whom you entrust your money.”

“The bottom line is that individuals must approach investment opportunities with a dose of healthy skepticism,” said Supervisory Special Agent Stephen Kodak of the FBI’s National Press Office. “People are often to willing to suspend their disbelief if they think they will receive a fantastic payout. Just remember: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

There is no need to look much further than recent “Ponzi” scheme investigations to realize the scope of this matter. Recent press releases are listed below, with more available at www.fbi.gov.


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