The Feds have accused Robert Allen Stanford of being a mini Madoff, running a multi-billion-dollar Ponzi scheme involving fraudulent certificates of deposit. Watching Stanford on ABC News tonight, it's easy to believe that's true.

It's not that Stanford wasn't convincing. Quite the opposite: the Stanford Financial mastermind offered an impassioned, compelling self defense, rooted in the claim that none of his depositors have lost any money. The accused scammer even cried, ABC reports, though it's hard to see any waterworks in the attached highlights.

Savvily, Stanford confirmed one of the least damaging allegations from the Securities and Exchange Commission — that his money is tied up in illiquid real estate investments, sort of like like the money of America's largest banks — while denying the other charges.

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"I would die and go to hell if it's a Ponzi scheme," Stanford told ABC.

This is exactly the level of charisma one would expect from an Antigua-based scammer who convinced investors to hand him billions of dollars. If Allen's as innocent as he claims, he'll spend a lot of time wrestling with this Catch-22: The more convincing an accused con artist sounds when protesting his innocence, the more guilty he is presumed to be.