Chicago-based Stoltmann Law Offices has represented lottery winners who’ve suffered losses from dealing with broker-advisors and others who have swindled them.
When Manual Franco, a 24-year-old West, Allis, Wisconsin, man won the Powerball lottery after buying $10 tickets, he triumphed beyond his wildest dreams: a $326 million jackpot. Most days he was concerned with keeping $1,000 in his checking account. “It’s amazing,” said Franco. “It feels like a dream. It feels like honestly any moment I’m gonna’ wake up.”
Yet sometimes when you win big, you lose. That’s often the case with lottery winners. About 70% of winners lose it all within five years. They often fall prey to awful financial advice, brokers and others who “invest” their money in high-risk vehicles and businesses. Winners also often spend away their fortune or give it to any number of “needy” family members and friends. They are also often defrauded of their winnings by slick operators.
The Stoltmann law offices is representing Franco, who needs to “disappear from the public and social media,” advises attorney Andrew Stoltmann, who has seen countless lottery fortunes evaporate in a short period of time. “As soon as they announce it, they become targets across the world. Once the word gets out, that person will become one of the most heavily stalked persons by banks, brokerage firms and illegitimate sources.”
Worse yet, most lottery winners “don’t have the financial infrastructure in place” to handle the winnings, Stoltmann says. They will need a team of financial planners, tax advisors and lawyers to set up prudent frameworks for keeping and maintaining their wealth. “You have to get your team in place – multiple sets of eyes watching the money. As Warren Buffet said, `rule number one is don’t lose any money. Rule number two is don’t forget rule number one.’”
“That [lottery winning] team has to have a lawyer on it, a Certified Public Accountant and a financial advisor who works on an hourly basis (not on commission),” Stoltmann adds. “That advisor should do something that’s in your best interest – not their best interest.”
All too often, lottery winners are directly targeted by scamsters. One swindle involved fraudsters in the Pittsburgh who had told recent winners that they had won even bigger prizes. One winner was told that he had won a $5 million payout, which was a ruse.
What do you do if you win the lottery? Certainly don’t advertise it to the world. “Advisors” and brokers will come out of the bushes to sign you up. You should seek the services of an attorney who specializes in lottery-winning clients. They will have a legal duty to protect you and your money. It’s also important to have a good safe. Remember, even if you’ve won, you still need to put the winning ticket in a secure place, so you don’t want to lose it. You still have to turn it in.
Another key piece of advice: Don’t take the lottery winning in a lump sum. Studies have shown that 90% of people who do this have spent or lost everything within five years, either due to overspending, terrible financial advice or scams. “If you take the 26 months of payments,” Stoltmann notes, “you can make catastrophic mistakes in the first years, learn your lessons and still have years of payments left.”
If you invested your lottery winnings with a broker-advisor and lost money as a result, you may have a claim to pursue through FINRA Arbitration. Please contact Stoltmann Law Offices, P.C. at 312-332-4200 for a free, no obligation consultation with a securities attorney. Stoltmann Law Offices is a contingency fee law firm which means we do not get paid until you do!