Your financial advisor, stockbroker, or brokerage firm should never betray the trust their clients put in them. Unfortunately, while most brokers and advisors work with integrity and do their jobs honestly and to the best of their abilities, there are some that do not. When they turn out to be fraudulent and unscrupulous, the investors who have entrusted them with their money lose not only their funds but also their trust in the entire industry.
But nobody is above the law, and these individuals and businesses can be held accountable for their actions if they either fail to protect their investors from fraudulent activity or intentionally deceive them.
Arbitration conducted by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) is a frequent method for holding individuals responsible for investment fraud. As the main self-regulatory agency for financial brokers in the United States, FINRA is tasked with the responsibility of monitoring broker and brokerage company misbehavior as well as carelessness. Under FINRA’s arbitration system, they employ independent arbitrators and arm them with the authority to force brokers and financial planners to compensate investors for losses sustained because of their actions.
What Is Investment Fraud?
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), which investigates criminal cases of investment fraud, defines investment fraud as the “illegal sale or purported sale of financial instruments.” The FBI has a long and successful track record of investigating investment frauds and related crimes, prosecuting the offenders and bringing them to justice. Some hallmarks of investment fraud are offers of investments with low or no risk, guaranteed returns, too consistent returns, complicated techniques, or unregistered securities.
It is the duty of every qualified stockbroker and financial advisor to act in the best interests of their clients. This means that they must put the interests of the investor ahead of their own. A broker or advisor has a fiduciary duty to their clients to act in their best interests, and if they do not, they should be held accountable for their actions.
How We Can Help
It’s normal to be dejected and disappointed after suffering a substantial loss on an investment. At Wolper Law Firm, P.A., our experienced team of investment fraud lawyers in George will help you understand your legal options and work with you to obtain compensation for your losses. As soon as we accept your case, we’ll fight tirelessly to get you the compensation you deserve.
Contact Wolper Law Firm, P.A. today to learn how we can assist you with your investment losses due to investment or stock fraud. Call us at 855.453.8605 to arrange a free consultation with a seasoned Georgia investor fraud attorney.
Common Investment Fraud Schemes
Every year, investment fraud costs American investors billions of dollars and is a criminal as well as a civil concern. There are a variety of ways in which an investor’s money can be stolen. Registered and regulated brokers may also commit fraud. Most of them are savvy and bank upon the naivete of their clients in order to steal their money. Then there are also scammers who create fake websites and email addresses, advertise themselves as financial advisors, and lure their unsuspecting victims. Here are the most common investment fraud schemes:
1. Ponzi Schemes
These fraudulent pyramid schemes got their name from Charles Ponzi, a con artist who operated in the 1920s and convinced thousands of people to engage in a scam involving the speculating of postage stamps. Ponzi schemes are still utilized today and continue to operate in a manner that is analogous to robbing one person to pay the second and robbing the second person to pay the third. This means that money from new investors is used to reimburse earlier investors until the plan goes belly up and everyone loses the money except the fraudster.
In a Ponzi scheme, as opposed to a pyramid scheme (which comes next on the list), the investments or assets that are supposed to underpin the system typically do not even exist.
2. Pyramid Schemes
A pyramid scheme is an investment program that is primarily focused on recruiting others to join in exchange for an investment or fee. Investing money and recruiting new investors are the only requirements of participants in pyramid schemes. Despite assertions that they are selling legal goods or services, the con artists use a significant portion of the money invested to make “returns” to early-stage investors.
Even if the things being marketed have legitimacy, the pyramid scheme will fail in the end. At some point, the scale of the scheme becomes unmanageable, and the promoters are no longer able to attract sufficient capital from new investors to pay back earlier investors. In most cases, the fraudsters who are behind these scams will go to tremendous lengths to make their programs look like genuine multi-level marketing opportunities.
3. Pump-and-dump scams
Most cryptocurrency scams fall under this umbrella. Fraudsters will pull off this scam by purchasing low-priced shares of some company. They sit on the shares for a while, then they begin disseminating misleading information with the intention of driving up the price of the stock by generating more interest in it. As a direct consequence of this, there is a significant rise in demand, and consumers, thinking they are receiving a good bargain, fall for the ruse and invest in the stock.
When the stock prices have reached a sufficiently high price, the fraudsters dump their stocks and vanish into thin air. Investors are left holding basically worthless stock and suffering a significant financial loss. Always proceed with extreme caution when dealing with individuals who try to sell you stock online and claim to have “insider information.”
4. Pre-IPO investment fraud
Fraudsters would present their victims an exciting opportunity to purchase stock in a company that isn’t yet listed on the stock exchange. However, the company does not go public, and the person who approached you is either not affiliated with it or has no connection to it. Prior to a company’s public debut, scams like these are commonplace. These types of investments carry a high level of risk and particularly appeal to people who want to get rich quickly.
5. Promissory notes fraud
A promissory note is comparable to a loan agreement, but with a lot fewer terms and conditions buried in the fine print. It’s common for a firm’s investors to agree to lend the company money for a predetermined period. Companies pledge to return a specified amount to investors in exchange for their money. Promissory notes can be good investments, but the ones that are widely advertised are frequently useless. Individual investors should be extremely wary of this form of investment, as most well-established enterprises have borrowing agreements with financial institutions. Proprietary securities brokers and the SEC are both required to register most valid promissory notes before they can be sold, so keep a close eye out for both. “Risk-free investments,” “assured returns,” and “guaranteed profits” are some of the sales pitches fraudsters use to lure in their victims.
6. Real estate investment frauds
Investors continue to be enticed by the promise of quick returns from real estate investments. Scams involving real estate investments have been around for a long time. Two of the most popular investment pitches involve so-called “hard-money lending” and “property flipping.”
The term “hard-money lending” is used to describe investments in real estate that are not financed by typical bank loans. Investors fund private lenders who lend money to borrowers. Pooled investments are securities and as such are subject to the protections and disclosure obligations provided by securities laws and regulations when money from multiple investors is utilized to buy a property.
Property flipping involves buying troubled real estate, renovating it, and reselling it for a profit. Legally, property flipping with borrowed cash or outside investments is perfectly fine. But that doesn’t mean it’s immune to misuse. A scammer may misrepresent the property’s valuation or the flip’s profit potential to deceive investors. They may also misappropriate borrowed or invested cash or employ unwary investors as “straw buyers” with banks or mortgage lenders, using their names and credit ratings.
How Do You Know If You Are The Victim of Investment Fraud?
Investment fraud leaves signs that it is happening to you. Some of the most common include:
- Sudden drops in the value of your portfolio that can’t be explained
- Big losses or sharp gains when investing in areas that should be low risk, such as bonds
- Transactions that you did not authorize
- A large number of trade confirmations arriving in the mail that you can’t explain
- A focus on one specific product in your portfolio
- Lower returns on other products that are similar when the one you have produces high returns
- Purchasing large amounts of securities on margin
- The disappearance of funds and unauthorized withdrawals from your account by unknown parties.
Contact us immediately if you see these signs with your investment portfolio. Investment fraud is something you can’t ignore and you want to contact the Georgia investment fraud lawyer immediately at 800.931.8452. We have over 30 years of combined experience and know how to get results for you.
What Can We Do about Investment Fraud?
Stockbrokers and financial advisors are answerable to the Financial Investment Regulatory Authority (FINRA). You can hold them accountable by taking them to arbitration, mediation, or court. FINRA looks at the case and decides what actions should be taken against the investment professional. These include:
- Ordering the broker, adviser, and their firm to pay you money for the losses plus any fees
- Banning the broker, adviser, or their firm from the securities industry
- Fining the different parties involved in the fraud and marking their records to indicate your case and the judgment. This information is disclosed to the public through FINRA’s “About Your Broker” files. It lets other investors and member firms know what happened. The case can never be discharged and it follows the broker, adviser, firm, and related parties around for the rest of their careers.
You have rights, and we can hold those who defrauded you accountable for their actions. Our Georgia investor fraud attorney is the place to go so you can get justice and recover the money you lost. Call us today at 800.931.8452. and put our 30 years of combined experience to work for you.
Call the GA investment fraud lawyers at the Wolper Law Firm, P.A. now and take advantage of your free consultation. We are experienced Georgia investment fraud attorneys, ready to help you at 800.931.8452.
FAQs to Ask a Georgia Investment Fraud Lawyer
The early signs of investment fraud include:
- Telling you to pay for everything in cash.
- You receive unsolicited contacts from the broker, advisor, or firm.
- You receive promises of high returns on your investment, such as 50% gains.
- There is a timeframe for making the deal and if you are not involved you will lose.
- The broker, advisor, or firm is very aggressive in its trading strategies.
If you see any of these signs, be wary of making investments and take your time to think about everything. Good things take time, and there is no hurry to become involved with the next great opportunity.
Investing fraud may affect everyone. Less-educated investors who blindly trust their brokers or financial advisors may be victims. Investment fraud may target passive investors who don’t scrutinize account statements. Unscrupulous brokers, financial advisors, and even family members target elderly investors’ life savings. State and federal officials are focusing on elder investing abuse. Elderly consumers are frequently victims of improper trading, inappropriate investments, broker theft, and other misbehavior and fiduciary breaches. Regardless of age or financial experience, all investors should regularly check their accounts for illicit behavior.
As per FINRA Rule 12206, investors have six years from the fraud’s date to file a FINRA arbitration complaint. When investors find anomalies in their accounts, they should contact a fraud attorney. Don’t delay in filing a complaint. Contact us.
Our experience as the best Georgia investment fraud attorney indicates several factors make up a successful case:
- Your investment goals and objectives
- Your risk tolerance
- Your income levels and net worth
- The account activity
- The total losses
- The promises made by the broker, advisor, and their firm.
All of these factors play a role in whether you have a case and the best course of legal action to pursue. Contact us today at 800.931.8452 and let our team of attorneys evaluate your case for free.
Call the Georgia Investment Fraud Lawyer Today and Take Advantage of Our Free Consultation
Investment fraud involves promises that are too good to be true. You find out later that these were lies to swindle you out of your money. More investors are dealing with numerous investment frauds thanks to the volatility in the financial markets and the economy. This is causing unscrupulous individuals to promise you returns that are unrealistic. You have trouble evaluating the merits of the investment and whether it is in line with your risk tolerance, financial objectives, and getting accurate information.
After the loss is when you are left to wonder where you can get help and how can you hold those parties responsible accountable for their actions. A Georgia investment fraud attorney is the best place to go to pursue investment fraud. Our attorneys are the best in the business and dig through all of the hype to identify what happened. We use the information we uncover to take legal action against those responsible. If you feel you are the victim of fraud, call the Georgia investment fraud lawyer today at 800.931.8452.