MIAMI (CBS4) – South Florida has moved up to the number two spot behind New York City when it comes to financial fraud.

On Monday, officials with the U.S. Justice Department announced the arrest of 15 people in a dozen local cases of alleged Ponzi scams, stock manipulation and securities fraud. The arrests are the result of a special federal task force formed 18 months ago to focus on the growing problem of financial fraud.

“When you invest in the market you are investing your hard-earned money. And what you deserve, and what we are here to say, is the shared goals of all of us to protect and restore the integrity of the market,” said Wilfredo Ferrer, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District. “When you invest, you know you are investing in a market that’s free of fraud and corruption.”

Nearly 90 people have been arrested in connection with several major local financial fraud cases. In one commodity scam, prosecutors were able to get more than $7 million dollars back for local victims.

They urge potential investors to fully check out a company’s background before giving them any money. Always ask for copies of any financial statement or federal reports they are required to file and ask if the seller personally profits, or gets any commissions, from their sales.

Consumers can check out both the FBI’s website at and the U-S Securities and Exchange Commission at for more information on avoiding financial fraud.

Locally, the FBI can be reached at 305-944-9101 and the SEC can be reached at 305-982-6300 to file complaints if you think you’ve been targeted for financial fraud.