Friday, June 22, 2012 at 9:35 a.m.
Gurudeo "Buddy" Persaud is accused of organizing an investment scheme with a fraud that was... cosmic.
The Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday charged Persaud with stealing more than $1 million from investors between 2007 and the beginning of 2010: He promised them returns of 6 to 18 percent but left out, according to the SEC, "that his trading strategy was based on his belief that markets are affected by gravitational forces."
If you're thinking "gravitational forces" is some kind of complex international economics model
, you're thinking too hard -- the SEC says Persaud thought the Moon made people sell stocks.
"Persaud preyed on people who trusted him by promising high and steady returns while hiding his unconventional trading strategy... When Persaud blatantly lied to investors and hid their losses through a Ponzi scheme, he should have known that an SEC enforcement action was in the stars," said Miami SEC Director Eric I. Bustillo, cheesily.
The SEC says Persaud took more than $400,000 to support himself and his family. The other money, though, he did invest -- badly. He's accused of taking money from 14 investors in Florida, Connecticut, and New York (including "a widow who worked two jobs to make ends meet [who] invested $175,000 from life insurance proceeds from her husband's sudden death") and putting it into stocks, futures, and options. Unfortunately, according to court documents, he was an idiot:
Persaud did not tell investors that in making at least 90% of his trading decisions, he relied on directional market forecasts based on lunar cycles and gravitational pull provided by an internet service.
The primary principle underlying Persaud's trading strategy was that the gravitational pull between the moon and Earth affects mass human behavior, which in turn affects the stock markets. For example, Persaud believed that when the moon is positioned so there is a greater gravitational pull on humans, they feel down and are therefore more inclined to sell securities in the markets.
Persaud lost $400 grand, and he traded for net losses from the very beginning. The guy literally never made money.
Of course, this is a bad thing when you're running an investment firm, so he went to the tried-and-true route of paying old investors with the money of the new investors. We all know what that means: Ponzi.
The SEC is seeking"disgorgement of ill-gotten gains, financial penalties, and injunctive relief against Persaud to enjoin him from future violations of the federal securities laws." In other words: No money for him, never do it again.