BULLETIN: National Investment-Fraud Sweep Dubbed ‘Operation Broken Trust’ Nets 532 Defendants; AG Holder Says Capers Caused More Than $10 Billion In Losses; ‘Undercover Operations’ Part of Task Force Arsenal
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and members of President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force said this morning that a nationwide sweep known as “Operation Broken Trust” has netted 343 criminal defendants and 189 civil defendants.
Among the targets of the sweep were purveyors of Ponzi schemes, affinity fraud, prime bank/high-yield investment scams, foreign exchange (FOREX) frauds, business-opportunity fraud and other similar schemes, investigators said.
Some of the defendants “filed for bankruptcy in an attempt to avoid claims by victim-investors,” investigators said.
The combined losses in the schemes, which affected 120,000 investors, were estimated at $10.4 billion, Holder said. He was joined in the announcement by FBI Executive Assistant Director Shawn Henry; U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Director of Enforcement Robert Khuzami; U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) Chief Postal Inspector Guy Cottrell; Deputy Chief Rick Raven of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI); Acting Director of Enforcement Vince McGonagle of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC); and other members of the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force.
“With this operation, the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force is sending a strong message,” said Holder. “To the public: be alert for these frauds, take appropriate measures to protect yourself, and report such schemes to proper authorities when they occur. And to anyone operating or attempting to operate an investment scam: cheating investors out of their earnings and savings is no longer a safe business plan — we will use every tool at our disposal to find you, to stop you, and to bring you to justice.”
The calling card of the schemes was greed, Henry said, adding that undercover probes are part of the Task Force’s arsenal.
“This operation highlights the scope of this problem, and its impact on individuals from all walks of life,” said Henry. “This one sweep alone involves fraud schemes that harmed more than 120,000 victims. The schemes may change, but the underlying greed does not. Working with our partners, we in the FBI will use all the investigative techniques in our arsenal, including undercover operations, to bring those responsible to justice.”
Khuzami, meanwhile, said the law-enforcement community was pursuing multiple forms of fraud.
“Fraud by well-known companies or high-profile executives gets the biggest headlines, but other scams are equally devastating to hard working families and retirees,” said Khuzami. “Victims want justice and don’t much care who the fraudster is or how unique the fraud. Today’s actions underscore that law enforcement agrees and will pursue fraud in whatever form.”
Read Holder’s announcement, made this morning in Washington.
President Obama authorized the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force in November 2009. In January 2010, Holder ventured to Florida to speak about the aims of the Task Force and to warn scammers that the government was serious about putting them in jail.