Business: Crude Scam

A $30 million rip-off

The handsome brochures in the mailboxes carry distinguished references, authoritative research and cite the CIA, Jimmy Carter and the Wall Street Journal. The pitch: buy spot oil futures contracts and, in six months, you too will be as rich as an Arab oil sheik. With only $6,000 down, the smart investor is promised OPEC-like profits of $30,000.

There is one major catch. "This is the biggest telephone rip-off in the country," says John Field, enforcement chief of the Washington-based Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). "All the con artists in the...

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