U.S. Attorney Wagner Presents at Investor Fraud Summit in Walnut Creek
|U.S. Attorney’s Office October 09, 2012|
WALNUT CREEK, CA—A regional Investor Fraud Summit, designed to provide the public with the information needed to deter future violators and to protect their retirement income during today’s rise in investment fraud schemes, was held today at Rossmoor Retirement Community in Walnut Creek, United States Attorney Melinda Haag and United States Attorney General Eric Holder announced.
Today’s summit featured U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag of the Northern District of California, U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner for the Eastern District of California, U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte of the Central District of California, and U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy of the Southern District of California. Also on hand were representatives from the FBI, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, the Securities and Exchange Commission, Google Inc., and CNBC’s American Greed.
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 swindled 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.
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.
“Fraudsters who victimize small investors do not just steal money,” said U.S. Attorney Wagner. “They steal the ability to reach goals that are important to all of us: a college education for our children, a safe and secure retirement for ourselves, and freedom from worry about providing necessities such as health care for our loved ones.” As a federal prosecutor prior to being appointed U.S. Attorney, Wagner prosecuted numerous investment fraud cases, resulting in convictions of fraudsters from multiple states.
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, SEC, U.S. Department of Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, U.S. Bankruptcy Trustees, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, the AARP, and the Better Business Bureau are holding investor fraud summits across the country to help consumers protect their hard-earned money from fraud. Prior to today’s summit in Walnut Creek, summits were held in Stamford, Connecticut, and Nashville, Tennessee. Three additional summits are scheduled to take place across the country: October 10, in Denver; October 11, in Cleveland; and October 12, in Miami.
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.
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 and for information on how to detect and prevent investment fraud, please visit: www.stopfraud.gov.