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The Associated Press April 1, 2011, 11:29AM ET

SEC claims Florida couple ran $30M Ponzi scheme

The Securities and Exchange Commission claims in a lawsuit that a Florida couple ran a $30 million Ponzi scheme involving fake foreign currency investments.

The SEC lawsuit was filed this week in federal court in Fort Lauderdale against James Clements and Zeina Smidi. They ran a group of companies under the name MRT or Maximum Return Transaction.

The SEC says the couple told investors their money was used to trade in foreign currency or invest in foreign products. Instead, the lawsuit says most of the money went to pay off older investors in classic Ponzi fashion or fund a lavish lifestyle for Clements and Smidi.

The SEC is seeking to force the couple to forfeit ill-gotten gains. Court records Thursday did not list an attorney for the pair.

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