The SEC has filed civil charges against two alleged Ponzi schemes, including one run by a Dallas area investment advisor who boasted of being the "Chinese Warren Buffett."
The two cases involve up to $130 million that was raised from more than 280 investors who were fooled into believing they were putting their money into profitable limited partnerships, according to the SEC.
In the most recent case, the SEC today accused Weizhen Tang of using false claims of profits and investment prowess to raise between $50 million and $75 million, primarily from members of the Chinese-American community in the Dallas area.
Tang, describing himself as the "Chinese Warren Buffett," raised the money for his hedge fund, the Oversea Chinese Fund Limited Partnership, since at least 2006, according to the SEC.
To attract new investors, Tang posted false profits on account statements and used new investors' funds to return principal and pay out at least $8 million in fake profits to other investors, according to the SEC.
In the second case, revealed Wednesday, Edward T. Stein, a Long Island, N.Y.-based investment advisor, is accused of preying upon long-time friends and acquaintances as part of a $55 million Ponzi scheme, according to the SEC.
Stein's alleged scheme dates back to 1992, when he set up the Gemini Fund I, L.P., and began to market limited partnership interests to clients. He described Gemini as a feeder fund for investments in hedge funds. However, the fund's primary investment was in Detour Media Group Inc., the publisher of the fashion magazine Detour. Detour Media, with Stein as its president, declared bankruptcy in 2003, according to the SEC.
Stein also founded DISP LLC in 2002 and created false statements for both Gemini and DISP showing consistent profits. He used money from new investors to pay off prior investors, to pay personal expenses and to fund the failed magazine venture, according to the SEC.
The actions against Tang and Stein are the latest in a series of civil actions the SEC has taken against alleged Ponzi schemes.
"The SEC has halted more than 75 Ponzi-related schemes in the past two years and charged more than 300 individuals since 2002 in such enforcement actions," Robert Khuzami, director of the SEC Division of Enforcement, said in a prepared statement.