New book by Commissioner Chilton: Ponzimonium—How Scam Artists are Ripping Off America
Financial scam artists are ripping off Americans more and more according to recent government figures. "We thought all the frauds and Ponzi scams were horrific in the wake of the Madoff scandal, but it is even worse now," says Commissioner Bart Chilton. While Federal, state and local law enforcement are going after the con artists more than ever before, there are basic precautions consumers should take before they part with their hard-earned money.
Commissioner Chilton lays it all out in a new book. In Ponzimonium—How Scam Artists are Ripping Off America, he tells the fascinating stories of ten such Ponzi scams that took place in 2009. "These are real cases, real fraudsters, with unfortunately, very real victims," Mr. Chilton writes. The book also captures, in words and pictures, a behind-the-scenes look at the lifestyles of the schemers.
One con artist purchased a fleet of luxury vehicles in colors like lime green and "blue & cream," including multiple Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Porsches, a Bentley, a Maserati, a Lincoln Limousine, and a metallic burnt orange Hummer golf cart. "This guy took hard-working peoples' money and used it for a mansion, nearly 20 plasma televisions, sports and rock and roll memorabilia, and a contingent of body guards," Mr. Chilton said. Another fraudster bought a 269-acre ranch, a fleet of classic sports cars, two airplanes and massive diamonds for ladies he was wooing in New York, Toronto and St. Louis.
"These mini-Madoff scams took place all across the nation," Mr. Chilton notes. "The consequences for the investors-turned-victims can be pretty horrific—people losing money for their kids' college funds, for needed health care expenses, or for their own retirement." "In most instances it is preventable with a little education and some due diligence fact checking."
Designed and written as a consumer education tool, Ponzimonium includes a chapter containing the "Red Flags of Fraud" to help people avoid being scammed. The Red Flags are tips like checking to make sure a company is legitimately registered and other due diligence "to do" items before an investment is made. Ponzimonium also includes an "Investor Checklist" designed to help citizens ask the right questions prior to investing.
Ponzimonium is a CFTC publication available for sale by the Government Printing Office online at http://bookstore.gpo.gov. It may also be purchased online at http://www.barnesandnoble.com and http://www.amazon.com. Neither Mr. Chilton nor the CFTC, make any profit from the sale.
Bart Chilton was nominated by President Bush and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in 2007. In 2009, he was re-nominated by President Obama and reconfirmed by the Senate. He has served as the Chairman of the CFTC's Energy and Environmental Markets Advisory Committee (EEMAC). His career spans 25 years in government service—working on Capitol Hill in the House of Representatives, in the Senate, and serving in the Executive Branch during the Clinton, Bush and Obama Administrations.
Prior to joining the CFTC, Mr. Chilton was the Chief of Staff and Vice President for Government Relations at the National Farmers Union where he represented family farmers. In 2005, Mr. Chilton was a Schedule C political appointee of President Bush at the U.S. Farm Credit Administration where he served as an Executive Assistant to the Board. From 2001 to 2005, Mr. Chilton was a Senior Advisor to Senator Tom Daschle, the Democrat Leader of the United States Senate, where he worked on myriad issues including agriculture and transportation policy.
From 1995 to 2001, Mr. Chilton was a Schedule C political appointee of President Clinton where he rose to Deputy Chief of Staff to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman. In this role, Mr. Chilton became a member of the Senior Executive Service (SES)—government executives selected for their leadership qualifications to serve in the key positions just below the most senior Presidential appointees. As an SES member, Mr. Chilton served as a liaison between Secretary Glickman and the Federal work force at USDA.
From 1985 to 1995, Mr. Chilton worked in the U.S. House of Representatives where he served as Legislative Director for three different Members of Congress on Capitol Hill and as the Executive Director of the bipartisan Congressional Rural Caucus.
Mr. Chilton previously served on the Boards of Directors of Bion Environmental Technologies and the Association of Family Farms.
Mr. Chilton was born in Delaware and spent his youth in Indiana, where he attended Purdue University (1979—1982). He studied political science and communications and was a collegiate leader of several organizations. Mr. Chilton and his wife, Sherry Daggett Chilton, split their time between Washington, D. C. and Arkansas.