Wednesday, August 5, 2009

100 years for $126 million fraud

Continuing the recent trend of harsh prison sentences for convicted fraudsters, Edward Okun was recently sentenced to 100 years in prison for running a $126 million fraud scheme. While $126 million may seem like a pittance in comparison to the billion dollar frauds that have dominated recent headlines, Okur's deception was reportedly worse than the deception of other recently convicted fraudsters (via Bloomberg):

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Dry argued Okun’s fraud was worse than others, because his victims thought they were using a risk-free service, as opposed to investing. The tax-deferral industry temporarily holds real-estate sale proceeds for a fee under section 1031 of the U.S. tax code, allowing customers to defer taxes when similar properties are bought within 180 days.

Instead of holding the money in banks, Okun used it as a “personal piggy bank” for expenses that included financing a divorce and buying jewelry for his new wife, prosecutors said.

We can only hope that increasingly harsh prison sentences will deter future frauds.

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