|English: Wall Street sign on Wall Street (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
|5. Bayou Group|
|Hedge funds were all the rage back in the mid-1990s, and Sam Israel had his own hedge fund group. To raise the , Bayou Hedge Fund Group promised that $300 million invested would grow to $7.1 billion in 10 years. However, things didn't go as planned. As returns didn't match expectations, Bayou sent out fake reports that indicated its were growing on pace. In the end, Israel was ordered to pay $300 million back to investors and is serving a 22-year sentence.
|4. Qwest Communications International|
|Even while his company tanked, Joseph Nacchio promised that Qwest was on target to reach its goals. While he painted a rosy picture of Qwest, though, encouraging the price to improve, Nacchio was selling his stock for huge profits. His insider-trading plan, which was based on artificially inflated stock prices, resulted in huge losses for others. At one point, the company fraudulently reported approximately $3 billion of revenue.
|3. Bernie Madoff|
|You knew this one was going to be on the list. Bernie Madoff was the mastermind behind what is considered the biggest in history. Madoff promised regular returns, and for decades, he delivered. Investments grew like clockwork. However, subpar returns were masked as Madoff took money from new investors to pad the accounts of old investors. Following the crash of 2008, when a number of investors attempted to pull their money out, the whole thing fell apart. Madoff would eventually say that $50 billion was lost.
|Do you remember the Enron scandal? This is another case of company executives lying about the health of a company, all while profiting from and committing securities fraud. Enron bilked investors and others out of billions when they fudged balance sheets to make it look like they owned things they didn't, and liabilities on the balance sheets of shell companies in order to make Enron look like it had better financials than it really did. Enron would eventually lose approximately $75 billion in .
|By rapidly acquiring smaller companies, WorldCom grew into a powerhouse of a company. However, even after all these acquisitions, CEO Bernie Ebbers insisted that there were plenty of assets. It seemed a little odd to think that WorldCom had plenty of ; how could all these acquisitions be paid for? Of course, there weren't enough assets for all of these acquisitions. Ebbers was using calls on WorldCom stock to finance other ventures, ranging from yachting to timber. Eventually, it was all called in, and Anchor stockholders and were left with billions in losses. Investors would lose $100 billion all told.