By David Goldman,
December 23, 2008: 6:03 AM ET
Most Americans believe that investment fraud like the recently revealed Ponzi scheme run by Bernard Madoff happens regularly on Wall Street, according to a recent survey.
In a CNN/Opinion Research poll, 74% of those surveyed said they think Madoff's behavior is common among financial advisors and institutions. The Securities and Exchange Commission alleges that Madoff operated a $50 billion Ponzi scheme - the largest in history - that cost some of the world's largest financial firms, charitable foundations and individual investors hundreds of millions of dollars each.
Of the more than 1,000 American surveyed from Dec. 19-21, 59% said the government regulates the stock market and financial institutions too loosely. Just 22% said government regulation is too tight, while 18% said the government's current market oversight is exactly right.
Americans are more supportive of additional market regulation than they were just a few months ago. In an earlier poll conducted in September, only 50% of respondents said there was too little government oversight, while 26% said the government was regulating the markets too much.
As Americans search for a safe place to put their funds, the vast majority - almost three-quarters of those polled by CNN/Opinion Research - said they would rather place money in a bank or stuff it under the mattress than invest it in stocks or bonds.