Operation Broken Trust is the largest nationwide investment fraud sweep ever conducted. The focus of this sweep was fraud committed against individual investors, including Ponzi schemes, high-yield investment fraud, and market manipulation cases. Operation Broken Trust highlights the pervasiveness of the threat we face, and its impact on individuals from all walks of life.
The perpetrators of these crimes are those who YOU might trust…friends and colleagues—people from your workplace, your child’s soccer team, even your church.
Criminals have always preyed on the trust of individuals with offers too good to be true…and while the schemes might change, the underlying greed does not.
One victim of a large Ponzi scheme in Tennessee said, “He sat about four rows behind us in church. We were very good friends. We went to his house often. He was a brilliant man. That’s how he was able to con people for eight years.”
Financial fraud is not a victimless crime. These criminals live lavish lifestyles, stealing their victims’ life savings and leaving them with uncertain financial futures. Victims who may have to postpone retirement and find second jobs. Victims who may lose their homes. Victims who are left wondering, “What do I do now?”
To illustrate the scope of the problem, consider this: In this one sweep alone, we had investigations in 48 of our 56 FBI field offices…more than 120,000 victims with losses in excess of $8.3 billion.
Operation Broken Trust had two goals. The first was to stop and bring to justice those responsible. We focused on 231 high-priority securities fraud cases, ranging from Ponzi schemes and foreign exchange frauds to classic “pump and dump” schemes.
Our second goal was to raise the awareness of the general public; the American people need to understand the threat they face, and their responsibility to remain vigilant.
More Americans are investing in the U.S. securities and commodities market. As a result, we have seen more fraud and misconduct in these markets. And the creation of complex investment vehicles, coupled with an increase in the amount of money invested, and developing technology, has generated greater opportunities for fraud.
Operation Broken Trust is just a snapshot There are many ongoing frauds, and we won’t let up on the fight.
In the past three years, we have increased the number of agents assigned to securities fraud cases by 47 percent. Since January 2009, we have opened more than 200 Ponzi cases alone, many with losses in excess of $20 million per case.
While we’ve had great success in shutting down these schemes and putting those responsible behind bars, there is always more work to be done.
We must continue to focus on intelligence and information sharing, not only to prosecute financial fraud but to predict and prevent it. FBI agents and analysts are trained to identify emerging schemes and threats. And we will continue to use sophisticated investigative techniques—including undercover operations—to successfully prosecute our adversaries and to find and stop criminals before they prey upon others.
The most important weapon in our arsenal to combat this threat is collaboration. We need the help of our many partners, including both law enforcement and the private sector. It is no coincidence that there are representatives from so many different agencies who participated in this operation…the Postal Inspection Service, USSS, DOJ, IRS, SEC, FTC, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, National Association of Attorneys General. Together, we are smarter. Together, we are stronger. Together, we will continue to seek out those who look to profit at the expense of the hard-working men and women of the United States of America.