A Georgia man was sentenced to 20 years in prison this week and ordered to pay back nearly $22 million for a Ponzi scheme that defrauded investors, including many of his friends, according to The Atlanta Journal - Constitution.

Mick Ramunno's company Renaissance Asset Management operated a mutual fund for commodity and commodity futures trading.

He lost $14.4 million in trades, but reported profits year after year that led his investors to unwittingly file false income tax returns.

"I had never seen returns like this," said investment adviser Brad Alford, after examining Ramunno's firm on behalf of a client. "He reported six negative months in five years. That's unheard of."

When Alford saw that Renaissance had reported returns of 42% in 2004, 30% in 2005 and 23% through November 2006, he knew the profits were too good to be true.

He tipped off the National Futures Association about Ramunno in early January, and within a week, the NFA's enforcement division showed up at Renaissance's office to conduct an emergency audit. Within 24 hours, the firm was shut down.

"He flat-out stole $3.3 million," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Monnin. "The fact that he ripped off his friends seemed to influence the judge's sentence."

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