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SEC settles complaint against Amish man accused of fraud

Being convicted of a white collar crime could mean significant criminal penalties. Convictions can stem from charges such as identity theft, bank fraud, and even computer crimes. These types of federal charges are taken seriously by federal investigators.

Recently, investors were made aware of a Ponzi-like scheme when a 77-year-old Amish man filed for personal bankruptcy. As a result, he was charged with fraud by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC believes that he took over $30 million from investors, some of whom were Amish community members.

The Amish man began enticing investors to trust him with their money approximately 15 years ago, telling them that their investments were tied to U.S. government securities. He also allegedly provided false statements for the investors to see where their money was supposedly earning money. The man has also been accused of defrauding an Amish nonprofit organization.

Even after learning about the alleged fraud, a bankruptcy trustee was unable to sort through financial records because some of the documents were missing. The man has not issued any detailed statements and has refused to discuss the situation. But he has maintained that he did not intentionally defraud anyone of their money.

The Amish man has settled the complaint against him with the SEC. Because he filed for personal bankruptcy, he was able to settle the complaint without paying a financial penalty. It is unclear whether he was penalized with other sanctions.

The article compares the man's actions to Bernie Madoff, known for running one of the largest Ponzi schemes to date and taking billions of dollars from a number of investors.

Source: The Washington Post online, "In an Amish village, the SEC alleges a Madoff-like fraud," David Hilzenrath, 17 February 2011

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