Accounting firm Spear Safer has agreed to pay $3.5 million to settle allegations of improperly auditing a financial company, Mutual Benefits, accused of defrauding 30,000 investors out of $830 million.

Mutual Benefits bought 8,900 insurance policies from senior citizens and terminally ill patients, expecting the policies to yield death benefits of $1.8 billion. The company sold $1.2 billion in shares to investors until the SEC closed down Mutual Benefits in 2004, charging it with operating a Ponzi scheme.

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