Federal authorities have charged more than 500 people with various forms of fraud during a 3.5-month probe, in what Eric Holder today termed the largest crackdown on scam artists in US history. Of those, 343 were criminally charged, with the defendants accused of everything from running Ponzi schemes to pump-and-dump scams to foreign-exchange frauds. Another 189 have been civilly charged, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The alleged schemes affected more than 120,000 victims, with losses from the criminal cases totaling roughly $8.3 billion. “These are staggering, staggering numbers,” the attorney general said in a news conference trumpeting the arrests today. The government, he said, was trying to send the message that cheating investors “is no longer a safe business plan.” So far 87 of those charged have been sent to jail.