Tuesday, 14 April 2009


In the wake of the Bernard Madoff revelations, Ponzi schemes, on a much smaller scale than Madoff's $50 billion scam, are being unearthed.

Eager to be seen to be proactive rather than reactive, the US Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) is charging funds left right and centre with running Ponzi schemes. Some of the latest victims on the SEC's watch list include Shawn R. Merriman, who according to reports, is accused of fraudulently obtaining between $17 million and $20 million from investors in three US states through his company Market Street Advisors. Similar to Madoff, Merriman is alleged to have promised investors "impressive" returns.

Other reports claim that "mini-Madoffs" are you using the video-sharing web site, YouTube, to promote "cash gifting" programs. According to a Los Angeles Times report, the Better Business Bureau claims to have uncovered 23,000 clips promoting these so-called 'gifting' schemes. Viewers are reportedly directed to a web site where they are asked to sign up at a cost of between $150 and $5000. A spokesperson from the Better Business Bureau is quoted as saying, "They make it seem like it's legal and an easy way to make money, but it's nothing more than a pyramid scheme."

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