Investor Fraud Summit Arms Consumers with Information to Protect Retirement Funds and Life Savings
U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina is Participating in One of Six Summits to be Held Around the Country
|U.S. Attorney’s Office October 03, 2012|
CHARLOTTE, NC—Attorney General Eric Holder, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina Anne M. Tompkins, and the Department of Justice’s U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, together with the department’s Criminal and Civil Divisions and representatives from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the 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.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina is participating in a summit hosted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Tennessee. The summit will be held on Thursday, October 4, 2012, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at Vanderbilt University School of Law-Flynn Auditorium, located at 131 21st Avenue South in Nashville, Tennessee.
“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.”
U.S. Attorney Tompkins is among the summit’s speakers and will participate on a panel focusing on identifying investor fraud and protecting the investing public. The summit will also feature Timothy Heaphy, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia, and Sally Yates, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia. Federal, state, and local law enforcement officials and consumer protection experts will be on hand to educate members of the community to help identify instances of fraud or abuse and help them protect their investments.
In announcing the event, U.S. Attorney Tompkins stated, “This investor fraud summit highlights the importance of raising public awareness on the devastating effects of financial fraud, both for individual investors and our financial markets. Educating the public on how to watch out for potential fraud schemes and how to report suspected fraud puts average citizens in control of their hard-earned money and helps them safeguard their nest egg from scammers looking to get their hands on it.”
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 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.
Since 2011, the SEC, a partner agency of the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF), 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 e-mail 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 FFETF 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.
If you think you may be a victim of investor fraud, please call the local FBI office for assistance at 704-672-6100. To find a local FBI 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.