Securities-fraud investigations up |

Securities-fraud investigations up

DENVER ” Colorado’s securities commissioner is reporting an increase in securities-fraud investigations in the tough economy.

Colorado Securities Commissioner Fred Joseph estimated his office, which usually has about 200 active cases, has seen a 10 percent to 15 percent increase in open investigations over last year.

The cases are concentrated in oil and gas ” which took off during the first half of 2008 as fuel prices surged ” real estate and investing, Joseph said. The latter includes several alleged Ponzi schemes, Joseph said.

A spokesman for the U.S. attorney in Denver said the office also is seeing an increase in financial-related investigations.

Fraudulent schemes can become popular in good times, then falter as the economy tumbles and operators struggle to pay investors who demand their money back, experts say.

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