Consider It A Dealbreaker

Please add this hard and fast rule to your investment toolbox.

Somewhere along the investing road, almost every investor comes across one piece of advice that is easy to remember and apply. I’m not talking about the nearly worthless axiom “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” which has led more people to lose their nest eggs than all Bernie Madoff’s victims combined. I’m talking about good, solid pieces of sound advice, like, “Never write a check directly to your financial adviser.” From Connecticut comes a story that should provide another bullet in the savvy investor’s arsenal. According to (more…)

Another Day, Another Financial Services Company Caught Stealing From Investors

You can be disgusted, but please don’t say that you are surprised.

You can be disgusted, but please don’t say that you are surprised at the latest revelations of a big financial services company stealing hundreds of millions of dollars from its customers.  The facts are still rolling in about PFGBest after the CEO of the Cedar Falls, Iowa-based international futures broker attempted suicide outside company headquarters. According to The Wall Street Journal: (more…)

A Very Exclusive Club You Don’t Want to Join

Vigilant investors know that a recommendation on a financial adviser will always be fundamentally different from a recommendation on a plumber, house painter, doctor, or lawyer.

There used to be an exclusive club in the Detroit suburb of Clinton Township. Alan James Watson invited a select group to join. The chief benefit of membership was the right to deposit your assets in the club’s investment account, which Watson managed. From 2004 to 2010 , month after month, the 750 members of the club received account statements showing steady growth. It seemed that Watson had the Midas touch. In actuality, the monthly account statements were as phony as Enron’s balance sheet. According to a press release from the Department of Justice. (more…)

No Honor Among Thieves

There is a food chain in the investment fraud world, and they don’t mind eating their own.

Believe it or not, it isn’t unusual for Ponzi scamsters to fall victim to investment fraud. HoustonPress is reporting that Robert Copeland, serving more than 121 months for taking $45 million from 125 people, lost $10 million to a foreign currency scam. According to the HoustonPress report: (more…)

Se Habla Ponzi?

All of those enforcers together and multiplied by three would not be enough to keep the investment landscape safe.

This week, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) got judgments against New Golden Investment Group, LLC (NGI) of West Covina, Calif., and its principals, Ruben Gonzalez also of West Covina, and Jose Naranjo, formerly of La Mirada, California in connection with a Ponzi scheme that robbed more than $3.6 million from 165 investors. According to (more…)

Another Forex Ponzi Scheme?

We are seeing an uptick in foreign currency scams because the stock market has bounced back from its lows of two years ago.

The Money Wise Guys is a radio show in Kern County, California. Broadcasting from the studios of KERN in Bakersfield, the hosts take calls from investors and answer their questions about investing. I’ve appeared on the show several times, and the hosts always ask me what’s hot in investment fraud. Last week I told them that foreign currency scams are raging. Almost on cue the U.S. Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) took emergency enforcement action to shut down an alleged ongoing foreign currency scam. According to (more…)

Another Drop in the New Wave of Fraud?

This new wave of scams is harder to detect and threatens, one day, to make us think of Bernie Madoff as small time.

Last week, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) filed an enforcement action charging Juvenal Eduardo Machado and his company, Invers Forex LLC with defrauding at least 28 investors out of $786,000. The CFTC will file hundreds of such actions this year. Two factors earn this relatively small case a mention on this blog: (1) the timing of the alleged scheme, and (2) the method of the alleged fraud. According to the CFTC: (more…)

CFTC Halts Allegedly Fraudulent Commodities Pool

The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) is on the investment cop squad which halts ongoing scams and brings investment fraudsters to justice.

Most of our posts involve cases commenced by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), state securities regulators, and federal prosecutors.  But not every investment fraud involves what the law defines as a “security.”  Oftentimes, Ponzi schemes spring from commodities investments.  The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) is on the investment cop squad which halts ongoing scams and brings investment fraudsters to justice.  As an example of the importance of the CFTC’s role comes word that the CFTC has shut down what it believes to be an ongoing Ponzi scheme in Michigan.  According to the CFTC’s press release:


CFTC Charges Staten Island Man with Commodities Pool Ponzi Scheme

If Congress continues to resist funding the CFTC to a level commensurate with its mission, investors will be at increased risk of losing their nest eggs to Ponzi schemes.

In a case that reminds us why it’s a bad idea to take investment advice from your brother-in-law, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission has charged Jeffrey Shalhoub of Staten Island, NY, and his company, Jeff Shalhoub Investments (JSI) of Long Island City, NY with robbing $300,00o from his in-laws and his former wife’s friends.  According to the CFTC’s press release: (more…)

CFTC Halts $1 Million Fraud

A license is no guarantee of ethical behavior, and there is much more investigation to do before handing your nest egg to anyone.

The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has halted what it alleges is a fraudulent commodity pool scam that has raised more than $1 million from 28 investors.  According to the CFTC’s press release: (more…)

South Carolina Pastor Charged with Fraud

Stay away from anyone who even casually mentions their faith in connection with an investment pitch.

Most affinity frauds involve professional investment criminals defrauding a community of faith.  A few, though, actually begin with the Pastor of that community.  According to the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, Episcopal Pastor Ron Satterfield raised more than $3.3 million from 70 investors in four states by telling them that he could generate profits by trading foreign currencies.  Criminal prosecutors now allege that Satterfield took out a loan in the name of his South Carolina church and transferred the proceeds to his personal bank account. According to the Holland Sentinel, Satterfield’s co-defendant in the CFTC action, Nick Bos, has now come forth with details about the scheme: (more…)

CFTC Halts Alleged $50 Million Ponzi

With the first baby boomers turning 65 this year and many looking to recoup investment losses from the stock market swoon of 2008, many will be lured into foreign currency and gold scams that tout a successful track record and promise steady returns.

The SEC is not the only regulator on the hunt for investment fraud.  Every year, the U.S. Commodities Futures Trading Commission files emergency enforcement actions to shut down alleged ongoing scams.  The CFTC filed such a case last week. According to the CFTC, Robert J. Andres and Winsome Investment Trust (Winsome), both of Houston, Texas, Robert L. Holloway of San Diego, California, and US Ventures LC (USV) of Salt Lake City, Utah engaged in a scam that robbed 243 investors of more than $50 million.  According to (more…)

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