A broker previously barred from the industry is now facing additional federal civil and criminal fraud charges for an alleged $15.5 million Ponzi scheme involving fake certificates of deposits.
Malcolm Segal, 69, ran his own branch office of Aegis Capital Corp. in Langhorn, Penn., operating under the name J&M Financial. Starting in July 2011, Segal began selling his brokerage customers CDs offered by Mercantile Bank and Bear Stearns that he claimed were paying an annual interest rate of up to 12 percent with a minimum two-year investment of $100,000, according to the criminal complaint filed Tuesday by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
The Securities and Exchange Commission alleged in its civil complaint that Segal purchased some CDs on behalf of investors, but secretly redeemed them early and took the proceeds. Other times, Segal did not purchase CDs at all despite telling customers he had and instead used the funds to purchase a condominium in Florida and other luxuries, according to the SEC.
Over the course of the next three years, the SEC alleges Segal raised about $15.5 million from at least 50 investors. To keep the scheme going, Segal used some of the investor funds in a Ponzi scheme fashion to send interest payments and principal repayments to earlier investors, the civil complaint claims. Additionally, the SEC alleges Segal eventually started stealing directly from his customers’ brokerage accounts around December 2013 in a last-ditch effort to keep funding the Ponzi payments.
By July 2014 the scheme fell apart after Segal failed to make payments and investors became suspicious. They complained to Aegis Capital, which fired Segal in July 2014 for his “failure to cooperate with an internal investigation.”
Segal’s termination triggered the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority to investigate in September 2014. FINRA asked for documents from Segal and sought an interview, but Segal failed to appear. Approximately two months later, FINRA and Segal entered into a settlement agreement permanently barring him from the industry for failing to cooperate with its investigation.
Additionally, Segal’s customers filed claims against Aegis Capital in arbitration, climbing the firm failed to adequately supervise Segal. The case is still ongoing.
If convicted of all criminal charges brought by Pennsylvania on Tuesday, Segal faces up to a maximum of sentence of 180 years in prison.