Chicago-based Stoltmann Law Offices is representing investors who’ve suffered losses from dealing with financial advisors who fleece older clients. In our practice, we’ve seen countless scams where older investors are lured into fraudulent investments. Unfortunately, investment and financial advisors frequently exploit and rip off elderly clients, who are often trusting yet vulnerable.
Common ruses involve “estate planning” seminars that come with a “free” lunch or dinner. Afterwards, brokers are known to peddle scam investments to those who show up. Lately though, investors are aggressively pitched through emails, texts and phone calls. These swindles mushroomed during the pandemic. According to the FBI, the number of scams targeting Americans over the age of 60 exploded during the pandemic, with upwards of 92,000 victims in 2021 alone involving estimated losses of nearly $2 billion, a 74% increase from 2020.
In the typical phone scam, fraudsters call older Americans, who are most likely to pick up the phone and listen to a pitch – and send money. Even former FBI and CIA director William Webster was targeted in a Jamaican lottery scam in 2014 when a caller claimed he won a sweepstakes, reports CBS News. The unsolicited caller became threatening when Webster declined to pay $50,000 to collect the winnings. “If it can happen to me, it can happen to you,” Webster warned in a public service announcement.
Scamsters may even pose as IRS, Social Security Administration or charity representatives. The one common thread is that they are all asking for money for a phantom investment or debt. Swindlers may also pose as investment “coaches,” real estate brokers, precious metals dealers or cryptocurrency specialists. The bottom line is that they “lie about their credentials and experience in these markets, and often don’t deliver what they promise. Instead, they take the investors’ money for themselves.” “Investment scams,” warns the Federal Trade Commission, “lure you in with promises of teaching you how to make a lot of money quickly, easily, and with low risk — usually by investing in the financial or real estate markets. Sometimes starting with a free seminar, the scammers later will charge you a hefty fee for their `proven’ investment tricks. But the real tricks are the lies they tell you.”
Other red flags, according to the FTC, include fake statistics and testimonials; links to current events or market movements and “guaranteed” returns on investments, especially unusually high performance.
Stoltmann Law Offices is dedicated to representing senior investors who have fallen victim to various scams and securities law violations. Brokerage firms are legally required by FINRA to monitor what their brokers are selling – their investments must be vetted and authorized by the firms – and have an obligation to investors to fully reveal true risk and return information about the vehicles sold. Broker-dealers and advisory firms are also required to fully vet all of the investments they are selling to determine if they are legitimate, suitable for your age and risk tolerance. Investors can file FINRA arbitration complaints if these rules are broken. You can often avoid rogue broker-advisors by checking their backgrounds through BrokerCheck,
If you invested 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!