What is Investment Fraud


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This video is provided for informational purposes only and nothing contained herein is or should be constituted as legal advice. If you have questions related to any legal topic, you should consult with an attorney and should not rely solely upon information provided via the internet. All content provided on this blog are subject to the Disclaimer at the bottom of the page.


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Video: How do attorneys decide which securities fraud cases to pursue?

How do attorneys decide which securities fraud cases to pursue?

Also available at KansasCityLaw.tv
In this video, Jason M. Kueser discusses factors that securities fraud attorneys often evaluate in determining which cases to pursue. This often includes a number of factors, including (1) individual aspects of the customer and the customer’s situation; (2) the amount of investment loss suffered by the investor; (3) the type or types of investments involved; and (4) whether the stockbroker, adviser, or brokerage firm has previously regulatory issues. There are other factors that are involved, as well.

If you feel you have been the victim of investment fraud or securities fraud, please contact an attorney. If you would like to speak with The Kueser Law Firm, please call the firm at (816) 374-5865 or send us an href=”mailto:jason@jmkesquire.com&subject=Contact from Kueser Law Firm blog”>e-mail.


This video is provided for informational purposes only and nothing contained herein is or should be constituted as legal advice. If you have questions related to any legal topic, you should consult with an attorney and should not rely solely upon information provided via the internet.
The choice of an attorney is an important one and should not be based solely upon advertisements such as this website. Past results afford no guarantee of future results. Every case is different and must be judged on its own merits. *Any information submitted via this website may not be secure and/or confidential. Merely contacting this firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship.

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Colorado Division of Securities Charges Stifel Nicolaus with Fraudulent Sales of Auction Rate Securities

On October 1, 2009, Colorado Securities Commissioner Fred Joseph announced that the Securities Division had filed a complaint against Stifel, Nicolaus & Company. According to the Division’s news release, the complaint alleges:

Stifel Nicolaus falsely represented auction rate securities as liquid, short-term investments to Colorado investors without discussing the risks. These representations gave investors a false sense of security that the investments would always be liquid when auction rate securities, in fact, faced significant, inherent liquidity risks.

A copy of the Notice of Charges is available in pdf format here.

Auction rate securities, which are also referred to as auction rate preferred shares, ARS, ARPS, and MARS, to name a few, have been at the epicenter of regulatory investigations across the country. Auction rate securities are long-term (or perpetual) investments that traded in periodic “auctions.” They are designed to allow companies, mutual funds, municipalities, and other organizations to borrow money for a long-term period while paying short-term rates of interest, which were reset during the periodic auctions. It was in these auctions that investors who held the securities could also sell their holdings if they needed to have access to cash. Because these auctions occurred on a relatively frequent basis (i.e., weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly), investors had the ability to sell their positions and obtain cash in a relatively short period of time.

For years, Wall Street firms sold auction rate securities as short-term, cash equivalent investments that paid marginally higher rates of interest as compared to other short-term investments. What these firms did not tell their customers was that the liquidity of the auction rate securities markets was entirely dependent on the ability and willingness of these same firms to participate in the auctions — in other words, these firms had to be willing and able to purchase the securities that were not purchased by the other auction market participants. In most cases, these firms were purchasing more securities than the other market participants. The firms (and their representatives) did not disclose these critical facts, but rather, only disclosed that the interest rates paid on the securities was reset at the auctions. In addition, these firms generally failed to inform investors that they would not be able to access their invested capital if the auctions froze.

In 2007, these Wall Street firms came under massive liquidity problems. As a result, these firms made a decision to cease participation in the auction rate markets, leaving investors across the country with illiquid investments that typically paid short-term rates of interest. In some cases, the auction rate securities paid no interest for months at a time. Therefore, investors were left holding a bag of illiquid long-term securities that paid little, if any interest.

Several class actions have been filed across the country on behalf of auction rate securities investors. In addition, numerous securities arbitration claims have been filed by investors. Some of these cases, as well as action by state regulators, has resulted in redemption of some investors’ auction rate securities. However, many investors remain stuck with these illiquid investments.

If you own auction rate securities that have not been redeemed, you may want to contact an attorney to discuss your rights. The Kueser Law Firm is a boutique legal practice that focuses its practice on protecting the rights of investors and recovering investment losses for companies and individuals. You may contact us by completing the form to the right, or by visiting our website.

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SEC joins FINRA In Cautioning Investors About Risks of Leveraged ETFs

Earlier this week, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) issued a joint warning cautioning investors on the dangers in investing in leveraged ETFs and inverse ETFs. The two regulators issued the warning because they “believe individual investors may be confused about the performance objectives of leveraged and inverse exchange-traded funds (ETFs).”

The warning also notes that leveraged ETFs are designed to achieve their investment performance objectives on a daily basis, rather than a long-term basis as with typical exchange-traded and mutual funds. In fact, the performance of these funds can vary significantly from their stated objectives over long-term periods. The joint warning contains a detailed description of leveraged and ETFs, as well as examples of how the funds generally operate. The SEC also included a link to a NYSE “Informed Investor” Bulletin entitled “What You Should Know About Exchanged Traded Funds.”

While this warning is welcome, it unfortunately has come after many investors have sustained significant losses in these risky and unsuitable investments. As previously discussed in this blawg, FINRA has already declared that leveraged ETFs are typically unsuitable for retail investors. The most popular of these investments are managed by Rydex, Direxion, and ProShares. If your stockbroker or financial advisor has sold you any leveraged ETFs, or purchased any leveraged ETFs in your accounts, and you have lost money on these investments, you may be entitled to recover these losses. The Kueser Law Firm represents investors who were sold leveraged and inverse ETFs. If you are concerned that your investments have been mismanaged, contact us to learn more about your rights.

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Message to Investors: Don’t Ignore Losses in Your Investment Accounts

According to a recent article on InvestmentNews.com, a study commissioned by Charles Schwab revealed that a significant percentage of investors are unaware of the losses sustained in their accounts. To make matters worse, more than one-third of the investors surveyed did not know which mutual funds they owned and less than one-third spoke with their financial advisor or stockbroker on a regular basis.

In the article, a Charles Schwab executive was quoted as stating that “some investors tend to be overwhelmed or intimidated by investing.” This is interesting because it confirms the important role that stockbrokers and financial advisors play in investors’ financial decisions. While this seems elementary, it astonishes me as to how many broker-dealers take the position in arbitration cases that the stockbroker or financial adviser played a passive role in the losses sustained in the investor’s accounts.

The survey also reported that 60% of the investors surveyed do not plan to make any changes to their investment allocations following the stock market’s rapid post-September descent. Stockbrokers and financial advisers often tell their clients to “stay the course.” In addition (or alternatively), many advisers and stockbrokers will show their clients charts or other documents that show how following a decline in the stock market a large portion of the recovery often occurs on select days — thus reinforcing their recommendation to stay the course, otherwise taking the risk that the investor will miss those few opportunities to participate in the recovery. Following this recommendation, clients feel forced to hold the same investments that created their losses.

It is important not to ignore losses in your investment accounts for many reasons, including but not limited to the following:

1. It is more difficult to recover from a significant loss than it is to sustain the loss in the first place. For example, if you start with $100,000 in an investment account and you sustain losses of 50%, the value of your account would be $50,000. Therefore, you would need a gain of 100% of this reduced amount ($50,000) in order to recover from the 50% loss you sustained.

2. If you are sustaining losses that cause you to lose sleep (or suffer other emotional distress), your investment accounts are probably invested in an unsuitable manner. This is something that you need to discuss with your stockbroker or financial adviser. If your adviser is unwilling to make significant changes to the accounts, or worse yet, if the stockbroker tries to reassure you that the investments are appropriate, you should seek a second opinion. In addition, you may want to consult with a securities attorney to discuss whether you have a legal claim.

3. If you decide to file a claim related to your losses, any failure to act could reduce or diminish your ability to succeed in arbitration or litigation. Whenever legal action is initiated, there are several issues related to the timing of the investor’s actions and the claim itself that must be considered (including statutes of limiations, equitable defenses, and arbitration eligibility rules).

When a stockbroker or financial adviser makes a recommendation to his or her client, they (and the firms they represent) may be liable for losses resulting from the recommendation. The Kueser Law Firm represents investors in securities arbitration. If you are concerned that your investments have been mismanaged, contact us to learn more about your rights.

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Considering Hiring a New Investment Adviser?

Earlier this week, The Wall Street Journal reported that while the four major Wall Street brokerage firms experienced an outflow of $8 billion of assets in 2008, Registered Investment Advisers brought in more than $108 billion in new assets during the same period. This activity likely reflects a shift in investor preference from transaction-based broker relationships to fiduciary relationships.

Investors generally choose to have their financial affairs handled by someone they feel they can trust. Given the financial meltdown that has taken place over the last 2+ years, it is easy to see why investors would prefer to have a fiduciary manage their investments rather than a brokerage firm that has unavoidable conflicts of interest with their clients.

If you are considering hiring an investment adviser, another Wall Street Journal article also set out some questions that investors should ask financial advisers. Every adviser-client relationship is based upon different goals, and, as a result, each investor should ask different questions when interviewing a financial adviser. However, if you are looking for a list of standard questions, this is a good place to start.

It is important to know as much as you can about your financial adviser, stockbroker, etc. You can also find information about stockbrokers by checking FINRA’s BrokerCheck website and research registered investment advisers through the SEC’s Investment Adviser Public Disclosure (IAPD) website.

The Kueser Law Firm represents investors in securities arbitration and litigation. If you are concerned that your investments have been mismanaged, please contact us to learn more about your rights.

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The choice of an attorney is an important one and should not be based solely upon advertisements such as this website. Past results afford no guarantee of future results. Every case is different and must be judged on its own merits.

*Any information submitted via this website may not be secure and/or confidential. Merely contacting this firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship.

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