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SEC charges Florida broker in astrology-based Ponzi scheme

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The Securities and Exchange Commission has charged a former broker in Orlando, Florida, with fraud over an astrology-based Ponzi scheme.

The SEC alleges that Gurudeo “Buddy” Persaud lured family, friends, and others into investing in his firm, White Elephant Trading Company LLC, by falsely guaranteeing their money would be safe and yield lofty returns ranging from 6 to 18 per cent. Persaud told investors he would invest in the debt, stock, futures, and real estate markets, but did not reveal that his trading strategy was based on his belief that markets are affected by gravitational forces.

According to the SEC’s complaint filed in US District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Persaud used investors’ money to make payments to other investors, the hallmark of a Ponzi scheme. Persaud also lost USD400,000 of investor funds through his trading and diverted at least USD415,000 to pay for his personal expenses, the SEC alleged. The same month Persaud began receiving investor money, he started using some of that money for his personal expenses. The SEC said that Persaud created phoney account statements to hide his trading losses and give investors a false sense of security.

“Persaud preyed on people who trusted him by promising high and steady returns while hiding his unconventional trading strategy,” says Eric I Bustillo, Director of the SEC’s Miami Regional Office. “When Persaud blatantly lied to investors and hid their losses through a Ponzi scheme, he should have known that an SEC enforcement action was in the stars.”
 

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