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Foreign Exchange

Regulation: CFTC continues fight against dodgy dealing

The US Commodity Futures Trading Commission is continuing its efforts to put an end to some of the sharper practices that have plagued the country’s retail foreign exchange market. On January 15, the regulator announced it had charged James Ossie of Atlanta, Georgia, and his company, CRE Capital Corporation (CRE) of Alpharetta, Georgia, with operating a Ponzi scheme. The CFTC claims that the scam sucked in more than 100 apparent clients and involved about $25 million. Neither Ossie nor CRE had ever been registered with the CFTC.

The CFTC alleges that investors were offered a return of 10% on their money within 30 days. CRE was supposedly going to achieve this by trading dollars against yen. However, according to the CFTC, CRE had lost $4.4 million since June 18 2008. The company made up the shortfall by creating a Ponzi scheme, with fictitious profits funded by subsequent pool participants.

"Investors must run the other way when approached by anyone claiming to guarantee exorbitant monthly returns, like those promised by CRE and Ossie. Such representations should raise an immediate red flag that such investment is too good to be true," says CFTC acting director of enforcement Stephen Obie.

The CFTC’s investigation continues.

It is not clear whether the economic climate is leading to an increase in such schemes, or if they are being discovered as a result of it. But the CFTC says it is uncovering a greater number of scams. "We are seeing an uptick in Ponzi scheme cases because, in this economic climate, new investors cannot be found to perpetuate the scheme," says Obie. "As these schemes collapse, the CFTC will move swiftly to prosecute those who harm innocent investors." The action against Ossie and CRE is the first case brought by the CFTC’s Forex Enforcement Task Force under new powers granted by the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008.

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