Securities Law Prof Blog

Editor: Eric C. Chaffee
Univ. of Toledo College of Law

Thursday, January 8, 2009

SEC Takes Action to Halt Ponzi Scheme

The SEC filed an emergency action to halt an estimated $50 million Ponzi scheme conducted by Joseph S. Forte (“Forte”) and Joseph Forte, L.P. (“Forte LP”), of Broomall, Pennsylvania. According to the Commission’s complaint, from at least February 1995 to the present, Forte has been operating a Ponzi scheme in which he fraudulently obtained approximately $50 million from as many as 80 investors through the sale of securities in the form of limited partnership interests.  The federal district court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania issued an order granting a preliminary injunction, freezing assets, compelling an accounting, and imposing other emergency relief. Without admitting or denying the allegations in the Commission’s complaint, Forte and Forte LP consented to the entry of the order.

The Commission’s complaint alleges that in late December 2008, Forte admitted to federal authorities that from at least 1995 through December 2008, he had been conducting a Ponzi scheme. Forte, who has never been registered with the Commission in any capacity, told investors that he would invest the limited partnership funds in a securities futures trading account in the name of Forte LP that would trade in futures contracts, including S&P 500 stock index futures (“trading program”).  Forte has admitted that he misrepresented and falsified Forte LP’s trading performance from the very first quarter. From 1995 through September 30, 2008, the defendants reported to investors annual returns ranging from 18.52% to as high as 37.96%. However, from January 1998 through October 2008, the Forte LP trading account had net trading losses of approximately $3.3 million.

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