New York (MainStreet) - Not everyone gets to be an astronaut when he grows up. Enter, for example, would-be hedge fund manager Moazzam “Mark” Malik.

In a complaint filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission Malik has been accused of running a hedge fund scheme to steal nearly a $1 million from investors. Unlike more famous financiers who ran Ponzi schemes before absconding with clients’ money, however, Malik ran a far more stripped down operation.

He never bothered to operate a hedge fund in the first place. From the complaint:

"Malik deceived investors when he sold them limited partnership interests in his hedge fund, variously known as Wall Street Creative Partners, Seven Sages Capital, LP, American Bridge Investment Group, LLC, currently d/b/a Wolf Hedge, LLC.

"Through various means of general solicitation (website, email, phone calls, fact sheets), Malik claimed to be operating a hedge fund open to high net worth, sophisticated investors that consistently yielded high positive rates of return. Malik described ABIG to investors, somewhat nonsensically, as 'a privately held Global Investment Management firm dedicated to the individuals and institutions around the world.' Malik also claimed that ABIG had approximately $100 million in assets under management with offices at 40 Wall Street, New York, New York.

In fact, Malik was then, and is now, conducting an egregious fraud.

Despite use of language that would have made a freshman investment club blush, Malik’s firm managed to find investors while promising a secret technique to manage investing. From at least 16 investors, Malik raised approximately $840,000.

All for a hedge fund that didn't exist.

Malik is alleged to have driven these investments with a wide series of deceptions, including grossly exaggerated data provided to Bloomberg and BarclayHedge. He also falsely claimed degrees in marketing and finance, legal education from Harvard, eleven years as a professional money manager and a lecturer position on ethics with a group he invented.

When investors asked to see returns or to get their money back, Malik flatly refused or delayed their requests. Unlike a Ponzi scheme, in which current investments fuel future returns until the bottom inevitably falls out, Malik allegedly spent the fund’s money on himself. At no time did the ABIG actually have more than $90,177 in assets.

“By pretending to be a successful hedge fund manager, Malik conned investors into bankrolling his lavish lifestyle,” said Andrew Calamari, the SEC’s New York Regional Office Director in a written statement. “Besides luxury travel, dining, and jewelry, investor funds paid for Malik’s continuing education courses at Harvard and his subscription to a matrimonial website.”

At times, Malik would respond to requests for returns by claiming he had died.

In addition to communicating with investors himself, Malik invented a subordinate named “Amanda Ebert” to handle emails such as his own death notices. Identified as “Investor Relations, Wolf Hedge, LLC,” Ebert also contacted investors and sent out account statements with inflated values.

There is no such person associated with Malik. The staff photo attached to “Ebert’s” e-mails was stolen too.

Malik’s fund has changed names several times since he first incorporated it, and according to the SEC’s complaint, he has continued to solicit investors even while refusing redemption requests from others.

--Written for MainStreet by Eric Reed, a freelance journalist who writes frequently on the subjects of career and travel. You can read more of his work at his website A Wandering Lawyer.