Millennium Bank Fraud: Perpetrators Aggressively Used Internet and Print Media to Advertise High Interest CDs: Should publishers have known something was amiss?

Boston commercial and personal injury trial Lawyer, Keith L. Miller, takes a look at Caribbean based Millenium Bank, the latest banking Ponzi Scheme to have bilked U.S. and other investors seeking big returns on their investment monies.

On March 25, 2009 the United States Securities Exchange Commission commenced a civil action in United States District Court in Northern Texas against the The Millennium Bank, and it principals, alleging violations of the securities laws of the U.S. According to most recent information from  the SEC, it appears that there are now over 1000 investors who placed at in excess of  $100 million dollars in the bank and its affiliates, hoping to secure high interest rate CDs, rates at two to three times that of the highest rates available in the U.S.

millenium-bank-cd-rates.gifInformation is now emerging that Millennium nurtured customers with an internet marketing plan targeted at individuals shopping for the best returns on term Certificates of Deposit. One was www.Bankrate.com, which is a website widely used by investors to determine the prevailing rates for investment and mortgage products in the U.S. Millennium regularly ran banner ads on this site. Victims also report that google “sponsored ads” regularly appeared when the Google seach engine was employed in searches for “high interest CDs”

bankrate.jpgAccording to the SEC complaint, Millennium Bank also ran advertisements of its high-yield no-risk CDs in print magazines and their Internet counterparts, including The Wealth Collection, Wealth Management Agenda and Haute Living. For instance, Millennium ran a promotional article in the March 2008 edition of The Wealth Collection, a bi-annual magazine that touts the latest in “luxury lifestyle trends, investment opportunities and wealth management”.

As recently as March, 2009, a another Millennium promotional article ad appeared in The Wealth Collection, entitled Offshore Advantage, which discussed how offshore banks could offer clients interest rates greater than any large domestic banks due to its competitive edge and hard work ethic. In this case, the edge was purported interest rates of 7.5%  to 8 % on CDs, when domestic rates were in the 2% to 2.75% range.

As described in the SEC complaint, Millennium ran another advertisement in Wealth Management Agenda, a lifestyle magazine catering to high net-worth individuals. Millennium offered investors the opportunity to “Invest in Peace” and earn interest rates as high as 8.5% on a five-year CD. 

The SEC states that from May, 2008 through March, 2009, Millennium also ran banner ads promoting its high-yield CDs on the website of Haute Living, a lifestyle magazine designed for high net-worth individuals. Haute Living’s website reportedly received over 197,000 impressions, which indicates that at the ad was viewed on the internet at least that many times.

Victims who appear to have completely lost their investments wonder if the advertisers who permitted these ads to appear and profited from the practice had any duty to investigate the Bank, and its lofty promises and  now evidently false promises. There are some cases, which suggest that a publisher has no duty to investigate the truth of ads its places unless it knows the falsity of the claims in an ad, or recklessly disregards what it should know to be false. The question then would whether a bank advertising interest rates on CDs 2 to 3 times that available in the marketplace would be this kind of information. The answer is not clear.

If you are a Millenium Bank victim, the Law Offices of Keith L. Miller, and its affiliates, is prepared to review your situation and potential claim(s) without charge, and will consider representing you on a contingent fee basis, which means that you will not have to pay out of pocket for your legal representation. The firm will take a fee only if we are successful in recovering your assets.

 If you would like a free confidential initial consultation, please contact this office by calling (617) 523-5803, or Click Here to send a confidential email.