Former Enron Prosecutor Chosen To Direct Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force; Website Debuts

The executive director of the newly created Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force is a veteran federal prosecutor who served on the team that shined the light on the spectacular fraud of Enron Corp. and gained the convictions of former executives Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling in 2006.

Meanwhile, the Task Force now has its own website — StopFraud.gov — and is targeting fraudsters and criminals who have fleeced the American public through Ponzi schemes, mortgage fraud, tax schemes and other financial crimes, the Justice Department said.

StopFraud.gov is designed to be an information hub and educational resource that “combines resources from a wide range of federal agencies on ways consumers can protect themselves from fraud and report fraudulent activity.”

Tens of thousands of people — from Enron employees to employees of the Arthur Andersen accounting firm — lost their jobs because of the Enron fraud and the accompanying accounting scandal. Investors lost fortunes.

Robb Adkins, who became executive director of the Task Force in February, was on the Enron prosecution team in the main case and was the lead prosecutor in Lay’s separate trial for bank fraud. The Enron case ranks among the largest frauds in U.S. history.

Adkins formerly was the top federal prosecutor in Orange County, Calif., working out of the Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse in Santa Ana.  He was a special prosecutor in the Enron trials, which were held in Houston.

“The Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force is the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud, but one of our best partners in the fight is a vigilant, informed public,” said Adkins. “Throughout government there are resources to help hardworking, honest Americans protect themselves from fraud and report fraud, and StopFraud.gov will connect the public with those valuable tools.”

President Obama created the Task Force by executive order in November. One of the first cases it tackled was the prosecution of Minnesota resident Trevor Cook in a $190 million Ponzi scheme.

Cook, 37, pleaded guilty last week to mail fraud and tax evasion. He is jailed awaiting sentencing, and his plea agreement requires him to cooperate with the government and the court-appointed receiver in the case to recover assets.

Among other things, Cook, who purportedly bought a submarine to access his island retreat in Canada, is required to take a lie-detector test “if requested” to determine “whether he has truthfully disclosed the existence of all of his assets and the use of the fraud proceeds.”

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