As reported by Richard Burnett of the Orlando Sentinel, investment fraud is rising in Florida with complaints about suspicious practices more than doubling last year. The state Office of Financial Regulation received 425 investment-related complaints last year. Another 112 complaints have been filed so far in 2009.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has opened nearly 300 cases of suspected securities fraud so far this year, up 32 percent from last year’s pace. And the agency has already obtained emergency orders to freeze the assets of about 30 fraud suspects, compared with only seven at this point a year ago.
For every high-profile case — such as the $50 billion heist perpetrated by Wall Street money manager Bernard Madoff — hundreds of other, smaller schemes are siphoning savings from unsuspecting investors.
For example, in April, the SEC seized the assets of a Sarasota hedge-fund manager, Arthur Nadel, and accused him in a securities-fraud lawsuit of masterminding a $360 million investment scheme. Nadel was also indicted on criminal charges by a New York grand jury.
In March, federal regulators said they broke up a currency-trading scheme involving investment brokers in Orange and Brevard counties and a Melbourne-based company, Capital Blu Management LLC. The scheme took in $17 million from about 100 investors, according to a lawsuit by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
The increase in investment fraud during the current economic downturn is not surprising, experts say. People are still jittery about the stock market, which remains volatile despite its recent rally. And the nation’s banks, still shaken by the credit crisis, are paying meager interest rates on customers’ savings.
“You have a lot of people, especially retirees, who are more susceptible to the come-ons that promise a safe, sure thing with higher returns,” said Mark Mathosian, investigations manager in the state Office of Financial Regulation. “That has made economic crime a growth industry in Florida.”
If you have questions regarding the handling of your brokerage account, The White Law Group can help. To speak to a securities attorney, please call our Chicago Office at 312-238-9650 for a free consultation.
The White Law Group, LLC is a national securities fraud, securities arbitration, investors protection, and securities regulation/compliance law firm with offices in Chicago, Illinois and Boca Raton, Florida.
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