Judge orders $1B in fines, payments in investor fraud

MIAMI (AP) — A federal judge in Florida has ordered $1 billion in payments and fines in a fraud scheme that fleeced thousands of investors.

The Securities and Exchange Commission said in a news release Monday that the Woodbridge Group of Companies and its former owner were ordered to pay the money to investors as well as civil fines and interest.

The SEC in 2017 filed an emergency court action against Woodbridge and owner Robert Shapiro claiming the companies falsely lured investors by advertising high returns on loans supposedly made to commercial property owners. In reality, the SEC says Woodbridge made no interest payments and used money from new investors to pay older ones in classic Ponzi scheme fashion.

About 8,400 investors were defrauded.

Boca Raton-based Woodbridge filed for bankruptcy in 2017.

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