A Ponzi scheme is when investment advisers attract investors through promising high rates of return on their investments. However, in a Ponzi scheme there are no real returns, but instead the investment advisers use funds from new investors to pay the prior investors. The investment adviser will usually use the funds to enrich himself or herself. Recently one investment adviser is facing criminal fraud charges of running a Ponzi scheme in Ohio.

The charges allege that the adviser, a 44-year-old man, had been running a Ponzi scheme that defrauded approximately 15 individuals. Over a five year time period, the man took more than $1.5 million from the alleged scheme. The man was arrested at his place of employment in mid-December and was hit with 17 counts of criminal charges.

Among the charges were 13 counts of wire fraud and three counts of mail fraud which could result in prison time if the man is convicted. He could spend up to 20 years in prison for these charges. He was also charged with one count of transporting stolen securities across state lines, which could add another 10 years to his prison sentence if he is found guilty.

However, the law in Ohio assumes that the man is innocent until proven guilty. Like any person who is accused of committing a crime, the man will have an opportunity to defend himself against the fraud charges in court. This can require an examination of the evidence against him in order to exploit weaknesses in the prosecution’s argument, although the burden of proof rests with the government.

Source: The Columbus Dispatch, “Man accused of $1.5M Ponzi scheme,” Mark Williams, Dec. 18, 2012