Were you a Victim of Securities Fraud or Bad Advice?
Do you believe you are the victim of securities fraud or have you been a victim of poor financial advice, we are here to help you, we protect main street from wall street opportunists.
What is Security Fraud?
First, what is “Securities Fraud?” Securities fraud is an illegal or unethical activity conducted by your brokerage firm, investment advisement firm or your financial adviser, involving the securities or asset markets – such as stocks, mutual funds, “ETF’s”, bonds, etc. Make no mistake about it, this is a serious issue and in certain cases can be a crime and you are entitled to seek recourse against the firm, financial adviser or in most cases both.
Examples of securities fraud can be but are not limited to the following: Ponzi schemes, pyramid schemes, unauthorized trading, unsuitable trading, stock manipulation, insider trading, front running, and other illegal types of securities transactions. If you believe you or a loved one has been a victim of securities fraud, please contact one of our qualified securities attorneys to determine if we can help you recover damages.
Did your financial advisor recommend you sell your existing annuity to buy a newer one because of “better features” or a “bonus”? Did the advisor inform you of the additional risks associated with the new annuity, the new fees associated with the new annuity, did your advisor disclose the commissions they earned, if not you may have been a victim of securities fraud.
Has your financial advisor invested your hard-earned dollars into an annuity and now your money is tied up? Do you know they received an 8% commission to invest your money into an annuity, was that annuity the right investment for you?
Did you financial advisor invest in the UBS Yield Enhancement strategy (YES), the Credit Suisse Yield Enhancement strategy ( also generally referred to as “YES”) or another strategy which was not suitable for your as an investor?
The lawyers and professionals at Shiner Law Group can help!
Common Types of Securities Fraud
Microcap investment fraud – Microcap securities are typically securities traded under $1 a share, in fact most major firms will not permit you from buying shares which cost less than $5 without signed disclosures. Investors are lured into this type of investing looking for the next AMAZON or other up and coming security. Typically, information on these types of companies are not well published so investors may have a difficult time reading and understanding the risks surrounding the offering so investors are not able to make a sound judgment. Micro-cap stocks are generally very risky investments and should not be purchased unless you are an experienced or veteran securities trader.
Additionally, these securities have a low liquidity, meaning they may not be easier to withdraw your money/investment at any given time. Some of the most common types of fraud surrounding microcaps are the “pump and dump” schemes and bogus offerings. The pump and dump involves excitement over a specific security through social media outlets, radio and tv which drives unsuspecting investors to start to follow and purchase these securities, the ones publishing the exciting news have already purchased the security at a very low price and their goal is to gain, or drive, enough momentum for the price of the stock to rise. Once the price rises, those who “pushed” the stock news, then sells their positions at a significantly higher price leaving the rest of the investors to sort out the details, the facts, the lies much later.
Financial Planning Fraud
Financial Planning fraud and inappropriate securities transactions – The investment advisor, misrepresents himself/herself as an expert and invests your securities account into more risky investments that may be unsuitable for you and your family. Additionally, financial firms have incentives for their financial advisors to sell their own products as an example a Securities Firm would manage the XYZ Fund and the financial advisor would have an incentive to sell this fund over the ABC fund (a non-related securities fund) to you the client.
Thus, the firm is making and keeping more of your money in fees and the financial advisors is getting a larger fee for selling you the firm managed fund. Also firms come up with new investment strategies which keeps more of your money in house which may not be the best investment for you. Examples of this type of fraud were the Auction Rate Securities failure in 2008 and the YES strategy recently deployed by firms such as UBS and Credit Suisse. Other examples of this fraud would be in Option trading which involves high amounts of risk and annuities, which may tie your funds up for long periods of time.
If you feel you have received bad investment advice or have been misled by your financial advisor you may have the ability to recover some of your losses. You may be asking yourself how you can sue your financial advisor or sue your brokerage firm, in most cases you have signed certain disclosures upon opening your account which prevents you from suing, however not all is lost, you can take your brokerage firm and financial advisor to arbitration. We can help you through the arbitration process as well as filing a complaint with the brokerage firm and FINRA or the SEC and in some cases the State you reside in.
What is FINRA?
FINRA or the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, is the self-regulating organization your financial firm belongs to, this organization writes the rules a firm and its representatives must follow in order to conduct business, the register the firm and the representatives to ensure financial advisors are properly registered and they ensure the integrity of the industry by examining the firms and the financial advisors registered with them. FINRA runs the arbitration process you would need to go through in order to seek proper recourse.
What is FINRA Arbitration?
Many investors do not realize that they cannot sue their financial advisors in court, they must go through a process called an arbitration, but you do not have to go through this alone, we can help you navigate and negotiate with your financial advisor.
Most investors do not realize that buried in all new account documentation you completed when you opened your brokerage account is language which prevents you from directly suing your financial advisor and the brokerage firm. These clauses are contractual in nature which binds you to resolving all disputes through a FINRA arbitration process. Arbitrations are binding and, in most cases, final.
However, there are pros and cons, to arbitration, as there are for litigation through the court system. The FINRA arbitration panel is made up of securities professionals which tend to see cases through the eyes the financial advisor, but that also is a benefit since they can more easily see if the financial advisor and the brokerage firm did anything wrong.
The first step is for us, as your professional litigators, to file a complete with FINRA to start the arbitration process called the “Statement of Claim.”
After the case is officially filed, the next step is to wait for a response from the financial advisor and the brokerage firm. The response maybe shocking to see a professional respond with a complete distortion of the truth, the response maybe filled with inaccuracies and lies, do not worry we see right through those and will get your story out front with the FINRA arbitrators.
The next few steps include selecting a panel, hearings and waiting for a final response. This will take time and it will be frustrating, however with competent legal counsel we will get through this together as a team.
If you advisor did any of the following please call us:
- Executed an unauthorized trade;
- Provided an unsuitable investment;
- Did not disclose pertinent information;
- Recommended a risky investment;
- Engaged in excessive trading in your account; or
- Is involved in a FINRA or SEC investigation.
We can help you navigate through this complicated process, we can help you file a complaint against your financial advisor or firm, we can help you through the arbitration process. Please call us an let one of our dedicated attorneys determine your next steps.