Astrologer charged in $1.1m ponzi scam

US market regulator Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has charged a former broker Gurudeo Persaud for cheating investors in a million-dollar ponzi scheme, wherein he was investing money on the basis of lunar movements.

The Indian-origin man, also known as ‘Buddy’ Persaud, allegedly collected more than $1.1 million from gullible investors with a promise of guaranteed return of 6-8 per cent.

However, he misappropriated nearly half of the investors’ funds or about $415,000 to support him and his family members’ lifestyle, the SEC said. The regulator has charged that Persaud, in his trading decisions, mainly relied on an Internet service that provided directional market forecasts based on lunar cycles and gravitational pull.

His investment strategy was premised on the idea that gravitational forces affect mass human behaviour, and in turn, the stock market, SEC said.

Persaud believed that when the moon exerts greater gravitational pull on the earth, people feel dejected and are more inclined to sell securities, the regulator added. The SEC said that it has charged Florida-based Persaud of luring “family, friends, and others into investing in his firm, White Elephant Trading Company LLC, by falsely guaranteeing their money would be safe and yield lofty returns ranging from 6 per cent to 18 per cent. “Persaud told investors he would invest in the debt, stock, futures, and real estate markets, but did not reveal that his trading strategy was based on his belief that markets are affected by gravitational forces,” SEC said.

According to the SEC’s complaint filed in the US District Court in Florida, Persaud used investors’ money to make payments to other investors, the hallmark of a Ponzi scheme.

Persaud was a registered agent at a Florida-based broker-dealer, but separately operated the now-inactive White Elephant, starting in mid-2007. “Persaud repaid earlier investors with money collected from new investors in typical Ponzi scheme,” SEC has charged. 

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