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Frankfurt Prosecutors Arrest Six in Ponzi Scheme Probe

Feb. 19 (Bloomberg) -- Frankfurt prosecutors conducted about 130 raids in Germany that resulted in six arrests as part of a probe into a Ponzi scheme they say resulted in losses for about 1,000 investors.

About 1,200 officers raided locations in seven German states today and more than 100 million euros ($134 million) was frozen, prosecution spokeswoman Doris Moeller-Scheu said in an e-mailed statement. The case centers on real-estate investment company Deutsche S&K Sachwert AG, she added, without identifying any of the approximately 50 suspects.

Losses may total in the hundreds of millions of euros as investors “sought a new profitable and safe investment possibility in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis,” Moeller-Scheu said.

Germany has intensified investigations into investor fraud. In Munich last year, prosecutors led raids targeting stock manipulators and won convictions on a scheme where small investors were duped using a stock-exchange newsletter. In 2011, a Wuerzburg court sentenced K1 Group founder Helmut Kiener to 10 years and eight months in jail for cheating investors in a 345 million-euro Ponzi scheme.

Efforts to reach S+K by phone were unsuccessful and the company didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

In a Ponzi scheme, money from new clients is used to pay off old ones rather than being invested.

To contact the reporter on this story: Karin Matussek in Berlin at kmatussek@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Scinta at cscinta@bloomberg.net

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