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.