Ravaged by the same fiscal turbulence pounding the nation’s legitimate businesses, Ponzi operations have been collapsing at a record clip, exposing prolific, rampant and colossal frauds that have bilked investors of billions of dollars, reports the Washington Post. The FBI has almost 500 open Ponzi investigations nationwide — up from about 300 in 2006, bureau officials said. Law enforcement officials with other agencies have noticed similar trends, and authorities said they expect to turn up many more cases in coming months.
“We have more open Ponzi scheme cases than at any time in FBI history,” said Special Agent David G. Nanz, chief of the FBI’s economic crimes unit. Pyramid schemes blossomed during good times. But their very nature — the constant solicitation of new investors to pay off old ones — makes them vulnerable to the harsh economic climate. Federal officials said they also have become more aggressive in trying to uncover schemes before they implode and the assets evaporate.