What’s Really Driving the Crackdown on Financial Criminals?

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Photo: WSJ

Clearly the authorities who let us live with Bernie Madoff for the past decade-plus can't all of a sudden have gotten their stuff together, and yet it feels like they're unveiling a new financial fraud every day. What's tipping them off? Looking back at a few of the big fish they've reeled in this year, we can't help but notice a common thread.

Are the authorities targeting the ludicrously tacky?

Think about it: Robert Allen Stanford had a golden eagle emblazoned on the toilet of his private jet. Raj Rajaratnam had his own rap. And now Indianapolis businessman Timothy Durham, who once appeared in a special called Untold Wealth: The Rise of the Super Rich, is being investigated for a Ponzi scheme. Durham, like the others, is insisting he is innocent. He has said he was shocked when the FBI raided his offices and feels "emphatically" that the allegations against him aren't true. But who are you going to believe? The FBI, or the guy who posed in front of a ridiculous Peter Max portrait he commissioned for himself? We suspect the government is banking on the former. Hide your Bedazzler, Steven Schwarzman, or they'll come for you next.

Ponzi Probe Ensnares Indiana Businessman [WSJ]