Attorney General Eric Holder and the Department of Justice’s U.S. Attorneys’ offices together, with the department’s Criminal and Civil Divisions, representatives from the FBI, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Department of Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the Bankruptcy Trustees, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), AARP and the Better Business Bureau are holding investor fraud summits across the country to help consumers protect their hard-earned money from fraud. These summits will take place in Stamford, Conn.; Nashville, Tenn.; San Francisco; Denver; Cleveland and Miami and are a part of the ongoing efforts of President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force’s (FFETF) Securities and Commodities Fraud Working Group.
The FBI reports an unprecedented rise in investment fraud schemes, involving thousands of victims and staggering losses. Since 2011, the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and 85 U.S. Attorneys’ offices have reported that approximately 800 defendants have been charged, tried, pleaded or sentenced in approximately 500 federal prosecutions involving investor fraud. The total reported amount cheated from victims for this time period tops more than $20 billion. This staggering number includes cases where the total amount victims lost range from tens of thousands of dollars to hundreds of millions, and, in some cases, billions in hard-earned savings.
“Investor fraud crimes can erode faith in our financial markets, threaten our nation’s ongoing economic recovery, and undermine the fabric of our communities,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “That’s why protecting the American people from fraud is a top priority for today’s Justice Department. And through the Investor Fraud Summits we announce today, we’ll take our anti-fraud efforts to a new level – by raising awareness about these devastating offenses, educating consumers on how to report suspected fraud schemes and empowering members of the public to fight back.”
Although the defendants in these federal prosecutions used a variety of tactics and schemes, they often took the same approach, guaranteeing high returns and, in many instances, providing falsified investment documents to victims. As a result, those victims lost retirement savings, military survivor benefits, family death settlements and money set aside for college tuition and mortgage payments. While the Justice Department has already obtained prison sentences for many of these scammers, including one sentence of up to 50 years, for many of the more 100,000 victims the damage to their families is irreparable.
Since 2011, the SEC, a FFETF partner agency, has charged 887 individuals and entities in 359 actions involving retail investor fraud. Nearly $9.7 billion have been alleged lost by over 1.2 million investors in those cases.
“Whether a cold-call, polished website, or email solicitation, fraudsters will use every means at their disposal to convince investors to part with their money,” said SEC Director of Enforcement Robert Khuzami. “That is why investor education is so critical — in maintaining financial health as much as physical health, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
In addition to the investor fraud summits across the country, in the coming weeks the Victims’ Rights Committee of the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force will host an unprecedented event, in partnership with the Justice Department, the Certified Financial Planner Board and the Foundation for Financial Planning, to offer free financial consulting services to 8,000 victims of an investment fraud scheme that was indicted in Chicago. In this case, the defendant falsely guaranteed high rates of return in a Ponzi scheme that caused the loss of more than $300 million of investors’ funds. Many of the victims were retirees who found the promised high rates of return, coupled with other false promises, an attractive investment alternative for their individual retirement account (IRA) and other retirement-type investments.
The first investor fraud summit is taking place today in Stamford, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. EDT at the University of Connecticut – Stamford Campus. The summit is hosted by U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut David Fein, who is joined by Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Buretta, U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey Paul Fishman, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Loretta Lynch, U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts Carmen Ortiz, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania Peter Smith, U.S. Attorney for the District of Delaware Charles Oberly and U.S. Attorney for the District of Maine Thomas Edward Delahanty II, as well as Deputy Director of the SEC Division of Enforcement George Canellos. Several additional federal, state and local law enforcement and regulatory officials, as well as consumer protection experts, are on hand to educate members of the community to help identify instances of fraud or abuse and help them protect their investments. For more information on the summit in Stamford, please contact Thomas Carson at 203-821-3722 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The second investor fraud summit will take place in Nashville, on Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012, from 8:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. EDT at Vanderbilt University Law School’s Flynn Auditorium located at 131 21st Avenue South. The summit will be hosted by U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee Jerry E. Martin. Guest speakers include FFETF Executive Director Michael Bresnick, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia Timothy Heaphy, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia Sally Yates, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina Anne Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the District of South Carolina Bill Nettles and Assistant Director for the Office of Legal & Victim Programs in the Executive Office of U. S. Attorneys Kristina Neal. These speakers will be joined by other U.S. Attorneys from neighboring states, Enforcement Attorney for the SEC Atlanta Regional Office William Dixon as well as representatives from the Financial Crimes Division of the FBI, the SEC and the Better Business Bureau. The summit will focus on educating the investing public on how to avoid falling prey to investment fraud schemes. For more information on the summit in Nashville, please contact David Boling at 615-736-5956 or email@example.com.
The third investor fraud summit will take place Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012, in Walnut Creek, Calif., from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. PDT at the Rossmoor Retirement Community – Gateway Complex located at 1001 Rain Road. The event will be hosted by U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California Melinda Haag. Guest speakers include U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California Ben Wagner, U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California André Birotte, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California Laura Duffy and Director of the SEC San Francisco Regional Office Marc Fagel. Other U.S. Attorneys who will be present include U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon Amanda Marshall, U.S. Attorney for the District of Alaska Karen L. Loeffler and U.S. Attorney for the District of Hawaii Florence T. Nakakuni. Representatives from FinCEN, FBI, Google and CNBC will also participate in informative panels highlighting the rise in investment fraud schemes in the United States; useful strategies to identify fraudsters; and new, proactive approaches to help protect your savings and investment. This event is open to residents of the Rossmoor Retirement Community and the media only. For more information on the summit in Walnut Creek, please contact Jack Gillund at 415-436-6599 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The fourth investor fraud summit will take place in Denver on Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012, from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. MDT at the Tivoli Building – Turnhalle Auditorium located at 900 Auraria Parkway, Suite 150. The summit, lead by U.S. Attorney for the District of Colorado John Walsh, will feature U.S. Attorney for the District of Utah David Barlow, U.S. Attorney for the District of Montana Michael Cotter, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma Sanford Coats, U.S. Attorney for the District of New Mexico Kenneth Gonzalez, U.S. Attorney for the District of Kansas Barry Grissom and Colorado Attorney General John Suthers. Multiple federal, state and local officials, including Director of the SEC’s Denver Regional Office Donald Hoerl, as well as representatives from consumer and business groups will be on hand for informative and interactive panels. Participants will learn what steps are being taken by law enforcement to help protect them from fraud, warning signs and how to outsmart scams and protect their hard-earned money. For more information on the summit in Denver, please contact Matt Kirsch at email@example.com or 303-454-0100.
The fifth investor fraud summit will take place Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012, in Beachwood, Ohio, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. EDT at the Montefiore Senior Living Center located at 1 David Myers Parkway. The summit will be hosted by U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio Steven Dettelbach and attendees will include U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan Barbara McQuade, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio Carter Stewart and U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania David Hickton. Federal, state and local law enforcement officials, including Director of the SEC’s Chicago Regional Office Merri Jo Gillette, along with representatives from consumer groups will discuss investor and consumer fraud, with a particular focus on scams that target senior citizens and the elderly. These experts will offer advice, discuss fraud trends and detail the best ways to protect yourself and your savings. For more information on the summit in Beachwood, please contact Jena Suhadolnik at 216-622-3695.
The sixth and final investor fraud summit will take place in Miami on Friday, Oct. 12, 2012, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. EDT at the Miami Dade College – in the Chapman Conference Center, located at 245 N.E. Fourth Street, Bldg. 3, Room 3210. U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida Wifredo Ferrer will host the summit that will feature Attorney General Eric Holder. They will be joined by U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Florida Robert O’Neill, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Florida Pamela Marsh, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama Joyce Vance, Director of the SEC’s Miami Regional Office Eric Bustillo and representatives from the Florida Office of Financial Regulation, FBI, FTC, the Better Business Bureau, AARP, FINRA and others to discuss issues associated with investment fraud schemes and help educate investors on how to avoid falling victim to such schemes. The summit will focus on recent investment fraud prosecutions, fraud trends and will include testimonies from victims of investment fraud and a discussion of preventive measures. For more information on the summit in Miami, please contact Lilian Cruz at 305-961-9393.
If you think you may be a victim of investor fraud, please call your local FBI office for assistance. To find your local office, please visit: www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field.
For tips on how to spot investor scams and for more information on investor fraud in general, please visit: www.stopfraud.gov.
President Obama established the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF) to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The task force, chaired by Attorney General Eric Holder, includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes. For more information about the FFETF, please visit: www.stopfraud.gov.