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SEC Busts $50 Million Ponzi Scam

PHILADELPHIA (CN) - Joseph Forte took $50 million in a long-running Ponzi scheme disguised as a stock futures fund, the SEC claims in Federal Court. In a scam that began in 1995, "Forte has admitted that he took at least $10 to $12 million in so-called fees for his personal use, and used approximately $15 to $20 million of investor funds to repay other investors," the SEC says.

Forte ran his scam through Joseph Forte LP, the complaint states, and while he lost $3.3 million from 1998 to 2008, he "lied to investors about the returns on the trading, reporting to investors annual returns ranging from 18.52% to almost 38%," according to the complaint.

It adds: "His most recent reports to investors, as of September 30, 2008, claimed that investor funds totaled more than $154 million. In fact, Forte LP's trading account contained less than $150,000 at that time.

"In late December 2008, Forte admitted to federal authorities that he had been conducting the scheme described in this complaint, and that he does no have funds to repay investors," the complaint states.

Forte, 53, of Broomall, Pa., never registered with the SEC in any capacity.

The SEC wants Forte fined, ordered to disgorge any money left, and ordered not to do it again.

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