Courts & Crime

Florida alleged Ponzi scheme could exceed $1 billion

The alleged investment scam by Fort Lauderdale attorney Scott Rothstein could top $1 billion, making it one of the biggest fraud cases in South Florida history, the head of the FBI in Miami said Thursday morning at a news conference.

``When it's all said and done, I estimate that this scheme could well exceed one billion dollars,'' said FBI Special Agent in Charge John Gillies.

He would not talk about whether others may have been involved with the lawyer's alleged Ponzi scheme, but said ``I do not believe this was a one-man show.''

His remarks came as the FBI and IRS sought the help of possible victims of Rothstein's alleged scam.

They are urging investors of any kind to contact the FBI by telephone or e-mail with information about their investments, verification of those investments and other details. Agents will then pore over the information and first respond to the biggest victims -- a process that could take weeks.

Asked why the FBI had not yet arrested Rothstein, Gillies responded: ``We are conducting this investigation in a timely manner, but we will not be rushed. We will be thorough, and we are far from over . . . I'd like to let the public know this case is going to take time.''

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