[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/CRIME/02/17/sec.stanford/art.stanford.afp.gi.jpg caption="Stanford presents a trophy to the winners of his Twenty20 cricket tournament in November 2008."]
The SEC has filed a federal lawsuit in Dallas accusing Texas financier R. Allen Stanford of bilking 50,000 customers out of $8 billion dollars by claiming unrealistic returns. Meantime, Stanford is AWOL. The feds have raided his offices in Houston, Memphis and Tupelo, Mississippi, but they don't know where the alleged con man is right now.
Here's what we do know about Stanford: He's a billionaire financier and cricket promoter. He reportedly owes hundreds of millions of dollars in federal taxes. Records show four federal tax liens against him from 2007 and 2008.
The picture that's emerging calls to mind another accused scammer: Bernard Madoff. Granted, Stanford's alleged fraud is a fraction of Madoff's alleged Ponzi scheme. But according to some reports, American financial regulators years ago found significant securities violations at Stanford's company that some experts say were telltale signs of deeper problems. Hmm, sound familiar?
This latest alleged fraud is coming to light two months after the Madoff debacle broke. Joe Johns will tell us more about Stanford and his operations Thursday on 360°.
See you at 10 p.m. eastern.
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
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