Former Madoff executive arrested, charged in Ponzi scheme

A former employee of Bernard Madoff has been arrested in New York City.

According to The Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger, Daniel Bonventre, the ex-director of operations at Bernard L. Madoff Securities from 1968 until 2008, is charged with conspiracy, securities fraud, falsifying books, making false filings with regulators and filing false tax returns.

Bonventre is the sixth person to be charged in connection with Madoff’s elaborate and record-breaking Ponzi scheme.

Madoff has been senetenced to 150 years in prison for creating and running the scheme.

Nadel admits to fraud, running elaborate Ponzi scheme

Arthur Nadel has pleaded guilty to 15 counts of fraud related to a $162 million Ponzi scheme he operated for nearly a decade.

Nadel, in prison since early 2009, admitted to eight counts of wire fraud, six counts of securities fraud and a count of mail fraud. He faces sentencing on June 11.

The Sarasota, Fla., money manager had gone missing for two weeks after failing to deliver dividend payments to investors in several of his mutual funds he managed. Leaving behind a suicide note and security net for his wife, Nadel fled to Slidell, La., and remained on the lam from federal authorities for two weeks. He eventually surrendered and has since been in a New York jail cell awaiting trial.

Nadel unsuccessfully attempted to get out of jail in the mean time, but lost financial resources to pay for his attorneys and was assigned new counsel through his incarceration. He also claimed to be in poor health, but judges overseeing the case considered him to be a flight risk considering his previous behavior.

New rules governing Free Credit Report offers take effect April 1

A new rule regulating so-called “free credit report” offers takes effect on April 1.

The Free Credit Reports Rule mandates that any free credit report offer that carries a hidden fee or requires paying for additional credit monitoring also direct consumers to an actual free report offered by states.

Consumers are entitled to a no-strings free credit report from the governement at AnnualCreditReport.com or by calling 1-877-322-8228.

Web sites offering “free” credit reports must indicate at the top of the Web page that a free state report is available, and links to AnnualCreditReport.com and FTC.gov.

Any site offering a paid credit report or a free report with a paid monitoring service, must differentiate itself from a government-authorized site with an actual free report.

Credit monitoring and reporting companies like Equifax, Experian and TransUnion must delay any advertising done on AnnualCreditReport.com until after consumers receive their free report.

California stops another discount healthcare provider

California has ordered an Arizona company to stop selling its bogus discount health insurance in the state.

According to a San Francisco Chronicle report, California’s Dept. of Managed Health Care told Healthcare One LLC to stop doing business there. Healthcare One also operates affiliates Elite Healthcare, Easy Life Healthcare, Republic Healthcare and Global Healthcare.

State regulators said the company offers a product as insurance and also offered products that didn’t exist.

California is cracking down on companies like Healthcare One, which offer lower rates on health insurance services in exchange for a one-time or recurring fee. This is the 18th company to face such an action, and though many similar companies actually offer legit products, Healthcare One and other fraudulent ones made claims it couldn’t stand behind, and also boasted relationships with doctors that didn’t exist.

Healthcare One also used a popular deception in its advertising and marketing, using pictures of the White House to claim it as “national healthcare discount program.”

Similar companies are also accused of withdrawing money from customer accounts even if they’ve canceled their subscription to the services.

FTC Warns Over 100 Firms of Data Breaches

The Federal Trade Commission has notified almost 100 organizations in both the public and private sector that they need to review their security practices.

The letters were sent to organizations where computer files containing personal information were shared.

Failure to prevent this information from being shared may represent a violation of one or more laws such as the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and the Federal Trade Commission Act.

The FTC however has not filed any lawsuits related to these breaches.

Author Kevin Trudeau ordered to serve 30 days in jail, pay fine

Noted author and TV info-mercial salesman Kevin Trudeau has barely escaped a month-long jail sentence.

Ealier this week, a judge in a Chicago court ordered Trudeau to pay a $50,000 fine and serve a month in jail on charges a book he wrote was misleading.

The Federal Trade Commission argues his book series, Natural Cures, is deceptive and misleading. He has previously been ordered to pay a $37 million civil fine for failing to ignore an order over marketing the book, The Weight Loss Cure ‘They’ Don’t Want You to Know About.

The judge who ordered that civil fine is also presiding over the criminal phase of Trudeau’s legal ordeal.

Trudeau is best known for his late-night and weekend TV infomercial shows where he sells his line of books, pitching “secret” cures to common health problems.

The author filed an appeal immediately following his being ordered to go to jail, and an appeals court said it will hear the case next week, meaning he’ll be free until at least then.

FTC settles complaints over Ticketmaster’s sale of Springsteen tickets

Ticketmaster and the Federal Trade Commission have settled complaints from consumers about the sales practices used to sell tickets to a Bruce Springsteen concert.

Regulators at the FTC said they were bombarded with complaints from consumers trying to buy tickets at Ticketmaster.com for a Springsteen concert. Instead of purchasing the tickets at that site, consumers were directed to TicketsNow.com, which sold passes at premium prices.

According to a Reuters report, terms of the settlement have not been announced, but likely includes refunds on ticket prices and conduct restrictions for the companies involved.

The terms of the settlement were to be announced by the end of this week. Apparently one settlement is between Ticketmaster (now Live Nation Entertainment) and TicketsNow. A second settlement has allegedly been reached between Ticketmaster and the FTC.

UK bans sixth mortgage broker for fraud

The U.K.’s Financial Services Authority has banned a mortgage broker for failing to prevent fraud.

A report indicates Kevin Byrne, working with Forest Financial, accepted mortgage referrals from a third-party, but did not take any “due diligence” or any effort to investigate the backgrounds of these clients.

At least one of the clients he accepted from the third-party did not exist. Byrne also falsified information on several other mortgage applications.

Byrne represents the sixth mortgage broker to be banned by the U.K. this year, all for fraud and incompetence.

Forest Financial is the second firm to have its permission cancelled by regulators.

Byrne’s work ultimately led to his downfall. He falsified numerous documents for mortgage loan applications, including passports and bank statements.

He claims the system has no checks that would have allowed him to spot fraud.

The UK suggests mortgage brokers check the backgrounds of their third-party clients before accepting more prospective customers.

SEC Amends Allegations Against Madoff Associates

The SEC is expected to file amended allegations against associates of Bernard Madoff to try to convince the judge to reinstate the fraud counts and proceed to trial.

The cases against Robert Jaffe, Maurice Cohn and his daughter, Marcia, who ran Cohmad Securities Corp, were dismissed earlier by the judge.

The three ran a brokerage firm housed within Madoff’s office that steered billions of dollars in client money to the Ponzi schemer.

The SEC accused the defendants of helping Madoff conceal his investment operation from regulators.

The defendants have denied any wrongdoing.

Dallas Debt Settlement Company to Pay Vermont $120,000

Dallas, Texas-based Debt Settlement America, Inc has entered into a settlement resulting in refunds and payments to the state of Vermont totaling over $120,000.

The Vermont Attorney General claims that the company violated state law by engaging in the business of debt adjustment without a license.

Debt Settlement America also failed to comply with the Vermont Consumer Fraud Act by not following the State’s three-day right to cancel requirements.

In addition to refunds and penalties, the company will pay $2,000 to any Vermonter who was sued by a creditor after signing up with the firm, and will offer to complete, without charge, negotiations with the creditors of its Vermont customers.

This is the ninth settlement between the Attorney General’s Office and a debt settlement firm in the past year.