Articles Posted in Options

Chicago-based Stoltmann Law Offices represents investors who’ve suffered losses from trading risky options contracts. All too often brokers recommend trading strategies that are far too risky for their clients, who end up losing a lot of money. One such investment approach is options trading, or the right to buy or sell a security at a certain price in the future. If you guess right on an option, you can make money, provided you buy or sell at the right time at the right price. But in a volatile market, which has pretty much been standard fare the past two years, the chances of guessing right are slim.

Investors lost an estimated $1 billion trading options during the pandemic, according to fa-mag.com. Many traded off broker advice or random tips on “meme stocks” from online platforms such as Reddit. These “mom-and-pop day traders” may have lost up to $5 billion when the costs of middlemen such as market makers is tallied. Worse yet, the day traders may have lost even more on “leveraged” trades involving borrowed money.

“Turns out, taking leveraged flyers on meme stocks mentioned on Reddit’s WallStreetBets trading forum is harder than it looks,” fa-mag reported, citing a new study from the London Business School. “Spurred by Reddit posts and urged on by Twitter and TikTok influencers, daily volume in bullish contracts set record after record as stuck-at-home tinkerers flocked to the contracts in an effort to juice up returns.”

Chicago-based Stoltmann Law Offices is representing clients who’ve suffered losses in money-losing complex options trading strategies pitched to them by their financial or investment advisors. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has charged Allianz Global Investors U.S. LLC (AGI US) and three former senior portfolio managers with a massive fraudulent scheme that concealed the immense downside risks of a complex options trading strategy they called “Structured Alpha.”

After the COVID-19 market crash of March 2020 exposed the fraudulent scheme, the SEC stated, “the strategy lost billions of dollars as a result of AGI US and the portfolio managers’ misconduct.  AGI US has agreed to pay billions of dollars as part of an integrated, global resolution, including more than $1 billion to settle SEC charges and together with its parent, Allianz SE, over $5 billion in restitution to victims.”

The SEC stated AGI US marketed and sold the strategy to approximately 114 institutional investors, including pension funds for teachers, clergy, bus drivers, engineers, and other individuals. “Allianz Global Investors admitted to defrauding investors over multiple years, concealing losses and downside risks of a complex strategy, and failing to implement key risk controls,” said SEC Chair Gary Gensler. “The victims of this misconduct include teachers, clergy, bus drivers, and engineers, whose pensions are invested in institutional funds to support their retirement. This case once again demonstrates that even the most sophisticated institutional investors, like pension funds, can become victims of wrongdoing. Unfortunately, we’ve seen a recent string of cases in which derivatives and complex products have harmed investors across market sectors.”

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