"Socially Conscious" RIA Pays $11 Million To Settle Ponzi Charge

Tuesday, August 02, 2011 06:38

Tags: fraud | investment advisors

A Philadelphia advisor has agreed to pay "clients, friends, and family" back millions that he allegedly took to fund his own activities under the guise of finding socially responsible investment opportunities.

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Sam Folin, the 62-year-old principal of Benchmark Asset Managers, paid $8.7 million plus interest and penalties.


The settlement came very quickly, barely two weeks after the SEC logged its formal complaint.


Folin reputedly put a new community-oriented twist on the now-familiar "private notes" scheme, selling nominally interest-bearing securities while looking for the right social investments.


However, the SEC says Folin was actually funneling the money into his own interests, which included paying back religious organizations that invested in an emerging markets microlending venture over a decade ago.


He also used the cash to buy a condo and pay his own salary, leaving the firm itself in what the SEC calls a "continually precarious financial position."


Folin has lost his registration. 



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