Ponzi Schemer Who Targeted Frum Yidden Admits $225 Million Fraud


steven-byersA Ponzi schemer who targeted Orthodox Jewish communities from New York to Chicago pleaded guilty yesterday to bilking investors of about $225 million. Steven Byers admitted he lied to investors of his now-defunct real estate fund WexTrust Capital LLC., and its roughly 120 spin-offs.

“Tell me what you did,” Manhattan Federal Judge Denny Chin demanded.

“You specifically intended to defraud investors?”

“Yes,” Byers said. “That’s true … I knew what I was doing.”

Byers admitted he used new investors’ money to pay earlier investors, and then concocted statements that lied about how much money was being made.

He and the WexTrust co-founder were arrested in 2008. The co-founder has denied committing any crimes.

Byers faces a maximum of 20 years in prison for the fraud and up to five years for conspiracy to commit securities, mail and wire fraud.

He is to be sentenced Sept. 13, when some victims will get a chance to speak.

“He pleaded because he’s afraid of this judge,” said one defrauded investor who attended yesterday hearing, but declined to give his name.

“This is the same judge that sentenced Bernie Madoff to the rest of his life in prison – and it’s a similar scheme.”

{NY Daily News/Noam Amdurski-Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. This guy faces a max of 20 years in prison and Rubashkin possibly faces life in prison. Where is the justness in the American justice system?!

  2. Yidden….invest in long term investments….
    give to a Gemach so that yidden can have where to draw from when they are in dire need…That’s where your money belongs…helping your brothers and sisters. If you have so much that you can invest…then you don’t need it for yourself…then it’s meant to give to others!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Hashem’s way of telling you…this is not what I gave you money for….
    sorry….one mans opionion…

  3. i guess if rubashkin changed his name to byers he would be in better shape.35 million versus 225 million! thank heavens our justice system is consistent and not at all biased(lol)

  4. #1, #3, #4:

    That is why, when guilty, you proffer a plea. He struck a plea bargain, he gets a lesser sentence. That’s how these things work.

  5. #2, you have absolutely nothing to apologize for,and in fact,I think your opinion is what the Torah ha”K demands of us. I , for one laud your wise words-that is the True “investment” -“keren kayemes l’oilam haBoh”.

  6. Beware of a ‘charedi’, Ponzi schemer in the making, targeting the Orthodox community! If someone in chasidische garb makes you an “innocent” offer of 5% monthly returns, ask him to show how he does it, and ask your accountant whether you should invest with him. I met a former co-worker and asked what he was doing. He told me he was in the process of obtaining his stock broker license and for the time being he works under a broker. He told me with a straight face that he has an investment vehicle that can earn his investors 5% a month. I asked whether he has done the math and understands the financial consequences of his promise. “Yah, yah, yah, I know what I’m doing.” Do the math for him and will see that he promises 80% returns a year. Compared with him, Bernie Madoff was small potatoes. Bernie promised only 10% to 12% annual returns.