Wednesday, 1 July 2015

SEC Charges Former Stockbroker With Conducting Ponzi Scheme

Otmane El Rhazi,

The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged a former stockbroker in Pennsylvania with conducting a Ponzi scheme and stealing investor money to purchase a condominium in Florida and afford his own vacations and other luxuries.

The SEC alleges that Malcolm Segal fraudulently sold so-called certificates of deposits (CDs) to his brokerage customers by falsely claiming that he could get them higher interest rates of return on FDIC-insured CDs than otherwise available to the general public.  In some instances, Segal purchased CDs on behalf of investors but secretly redeemed them early and took the proceeds.  Other times, Segal did not purchase CDs at all despite telling customers he had.  He raised approximately $15.5 million from at least 50 investors.  Besides spending investor money on himself, Segal used it in Ponzi scheme fashion for purported interest payments and principal repayments to earlier investors. 

The SEC further alleges that Segal eventually started stealing directly from his customers’ brokerage accounts in a last-ditch effort to keep funding the Ponzi payments.  He forged letters of authorization to facilitate the transfer of customer funds to accounts he controlled, notably forging the signature of one customer’s wife who had died before the date of the transfer.  The scheme collapsed in July 2014.

In a parallel action, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania today announced criminal charges against Segal.

“As alleged in our complaint, Segal duped investors by pretending to sell them safe investments while stealing their money for his own benefit and making Ponzi payments to earlier investors,”  said Sharon B. Binger, Director of the SEC’s Philadelphia Regional Office.  “Segal put his own greed above his obligations to customers and violated the law.”

The SEC’s complaint filed in federal court in Philadelphia charges Segal with violations of Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933 as well as Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5.  The SEC seeks disgorgement plus prejudgment interest and penalties as well as a permanent injunction.

The SEC’s continuing investigation is being conducted by Michael F. McGraw and Brendan P. McGlynn in the Philadelphia Regional Office.  The SEC’s litigation will be led by David L. Axelrod and Michael J. Rinaldi, and the case is being supervised by G. Jeffrey Boujoukos.  The SEC appreciates the assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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Regards,
Otmane El Rhazi
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