Amish Man Accused of Running Ponzi Scheme

Monroe Beachy claims it was 'not intentional'

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 17, 2011 8:40 AM CST

(Newser) – You don’t need any fancy, newfangled technology to run a Ponzi scheme. Just ask Monroe L. Beachy, the Amish man who, the SEC alleged this week, defrauded some 2,600 people, almost all of them Amish. The 77-year-old took in some $33 million over his quarter-century career, allegedly telling investors it was going into safe government securities, the Washington Post reports. In reality, he was using it to make risky stock and junk bond bets.

By 1998, Beachy was insolvent, but he kept taking money from new investors and paying earlier ones with it. The scheme finally collapsed last year, when Beachy declared bankruptcy and his trustee found “mutilated” records. Beachy says the fraud “was not intentional,” but the Amish are outraged, both by the betrayal and by his decision to file for bankruptcy instead of sorting the matter out within the community. The SEC, meanwhile, has let Beach settle without penalty or admission of guilt, because of his dire financial situation.

A horse and buggy take an Amish family back to their home.   (AP Photo/Michael Dann)
This photo taken on May 13, 2009, shows a sign on Highway 69 just outside of the town of Westcliffe, Colo., that warns motorist to look out for Amish horse-drawn carriages.   (AP Photo/Alysia Patterson)
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