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SEC Says Miami Hot Shot|Ran $900 Million Ponzi

MIAMI (CN) - The SEC today charged Miami Beach businessman Nevin Shapiro with running a $900 million securities fraud Ponzi scheme. Shapiro, 41, promised as much as 26 percent annual returns to investors in his business, Capitol Investments USA, but used new money to pay off old investors and to "fund his own lavish lifestyle," the SEC said.

Shapiro, 41, claimed he would put investors' money into a "grocery diverting business," which buys groceries cheap in one place, then sells them where prices are higher.

But the SEC claims Capitol was losing money by late 2004 and had virtually no real business operations by 2005, when Shapiro began operating it as a Ponzi scheme.

His "lavish lifestyle" includes a $5 million home, a $1 million boar, high-stakes gambling and season tickets to sports events, the SEC said. It added that he spent about $13 million of his clients' money to pay commissions to people who drew him new investors.

The SEC seeks penalties, disgorgement, and an accounting.

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