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Articles Posted in SEC Investor Bulletin

The Securities And Exchange Commission recently released a bulletin on their investor website warning about frauds that incorporate digital assets and cryptocurrencies into their scams.  Investing in cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, and other so-called “digital assets” are a truly 21st Century way to invest. For someone who is tech-savvy as well as educated with investing, dipping into crypto may be a next-generation investment that offers returns on an investment.    Blockchain-based and without physical currency, digital assets and crypto are only issued and traded electronically, making defrauding investors even easier than before. There is no central overseeing agency, such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC.)  Unfortunately, like so-called “pot stocks,” crypto trading has also become a fraudster’s dream.The Securities And Exchange Commission recently released a bulletin on their investor website warning about frauds that incorporate digital assets and cryptocurrency into their scams.

Investing in cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, and other so-called “digital assets” are a truly 21st Century way to invest. For someone who is tech-savvy as well as educated with investing, dipping into crypto may be a next-generation investment that offers returns on an investment. Continue reading ›

Bitcoin: it’s the virtual currency based on blockchain technology. It’s rising, falling, trading, and the “wave of the future,” depending on who you talk to. Started in 2009 as an international alternative currency, a growing number of businesses are accepting bitcoin as a standard method of payment. PayPal has also begun allowing customers of their cash accounts to buy, sell, and hold Bitcoin and three other cryptocurrencies in their own accounts.  One of the many ways people buy and use use Bitcoin is as an investment vehicle. This includes the purchase of a futures contract strictly for Bitcoin. These contracts are considered commodities, and fall under both the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodities Futures Trading Commission.  The SEC and the CFTC recently issued an investor alert to inform the public about funds trading in bitcoin futures. Some investors may decide to invest in bitcoin futures as a way getting into cryptocurrency in a small way.  In this press release, both agencies emphasize that any cryptocurrency investment is speculative, and could rise or fall quickly. It’s important to consider your risk tolerance before investing in any investment, due to the potential for losing the entire amount. Bitcoin is particularly volatile, because of the up-and-down nature of its price. The underlying “spot” or cash Bitcoin market also adds the possibility of fraud and manipulation.  Bitcoin: it’s the virtual currency based on blockchain technology. It’s rising, falling, trading, and the “wave of the future,” depending on who you talk to. Started in 2009 as an international alternative currency, a growing number of businesses are accepting bitcoin as a standard method of payment. PayPal has also begun allowing customers of their cash accounts to buy, sell, and hold Bitcoin and three other cryptocurrencies in their own accounts. Continue reading ›

The SEC has issued an investor alert for people regarding fraudsters posing as brokers and investment advisors.  We’ve previously discussed brokers and investment advisors and their different schemes for defrauding clients—especially long-term clients. But as the SEC warns, there’s more to it than that, and a tactic you may not realize exists.  While you may have an established relationship with an investment professional, there are others who may attempt to convince you to terminate that relationship in favor of a new one. These individuals are frequently not registered brokers or investment advisors, but fraudsters. And that’s where the trouble starts. Many Ponzi schemes and other investment frauds use unregistered financial advisors to sell their securities. Sometimes, these advisors characterize themselves as senior wealth advisors or elder specialists to gain access to clients.    False Claims And Misrepresentation In The Sale of Securities  If you’ve ever received a friend request on social media from someone you are already connected to, you’ve experienced a “spoof.” This happens when someone creates an account pretending to be someone you already know. They steal a few pictures and facts so that people believe that the new account is the same friend. Also called “cloning,” you may not realize that the second account isn’t the same person until you begin conversing with them and realize something is wrong.The SEC has issued an investor alert for people regarding fraudsters posing as brokers and investment advisors.

We’ve previously discussed brokers and investment advisors and their different schemes for defrauding clients—especially long-term clients. But as the SEC warns, there’s more to it than that, and a tactic you may not realize exists. Continue reading ›

Do you have a family member who is also your stockbroker, investment advisor, or other financial services representative?  Many broker-dealer firms encourage newly-minted employees to recruit wealthy relatives to invest with them to begin their business and grow their client list. You may have taken the bait and moved your investments over, or may just be considering changing brokers to help them out. There isn’t anything wrong with doing this, of course, it’s your choice.  In many ways, you should treat them as you would anyone you’re considering to invest your money, since it is your money that’s on the line. The goal is to ensure that your money will be in safe hands, and handled professionally, family or not.Do you have a family member who is also your stockbroker, investment advisor, or other financial services representative?

Many broker-dealer firms encourage newly-minted employees to recruit wealthy relatives to invest with them to begin their business and grow their client list. You may have taken the bait and moved your investments over, or may just be considering changing brokers to help them out. There isn’t anything wrong with doing this, of course, it’s your choice. Continue reading ›

Social media has become an integral part of modern culture. It’s the place where we can keep in touch with friends, relatives, and people you met long ago. You can meet people with shared interests, learn new things, swap stories, and ask for advice. Facebook, LinkedIn, and other similar sites have group functions for like-minded people to gather to share and discuss. Silver Law Group’s managing partner, Scott Silver, is a frequent news commentator speaking about current events relating to investing. Scott appeared in multiple news outlets including CNBC discussing the trading around Gamestop and the perceived relationship between wall street v main street. Just like “reality TV” and those gossip magazines at the grocery checkout, not everything on social media is what it seems. Psychology offers many answers as to why so many people believe everything they see and read without asking questions. For instance, “influencers” are those who post frequently about their life and lifestyle, and frequently receive paid sponsorships and other compensation in return. However, not all of these “influencers” are telling the truth about their lives, and taking pictures for social media that aren’t completely accurate. Researching financial related information can be just as inaccurate no matter where it’s found. That’s why it’s important to have a strong understanding about any securities purchases you’re considering, as well as reliable sources before making any decision. This includes anything from your stockbroker and/or financial advisor. If you’re just a casual investor who doesn’t have the experience of a more sophisticated investor, you’re taking a gamble with the risk of losing not only your investment capital, but more.   The Securities And Exchange Commission recently published an investor alert discussing stock information on social media. Keep this in mind when researching stocks, securities, or other financial information.Social media has become an integral part of modern culture. It’s the place where we can keep in touch with friends, relatives, and people you met long ago. You can meet people with shared interests, learn new things, swap stories, and ask for advice. Facebook, LinkedIn, and other similar sites have group functions for like-minded people to gather to share and discuss. Continue reading ›

In light of recent investigations and enforcement actions focused on misconduct that targets and victimizes teachers and other public sector employees, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) has increased its efforts on protecting these individuals. As part of those efforts, the SEC published an Investor Bulletin titled “Tips for Teachers: Investing for Retirement”. Additionally, the SEC also refers interested readers to its 36-page “Guide for Teachers”, published by the SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy in 2018, which walks teachers through financial planning, saving, debt management, investment options, and avoiding fraud.In light of recent investigations and enforcement actions focused on misconduct that targets and victimizes teachers and other public sector employees, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) has increased its efforts on protecting these individuals. As part of those efforts, the SEC published an Investor Bulletin titled “Tips for Teachers: Investing for Retirement”.

Additionally, the SEC also refers interested readers to its 36-page “Guide for Teachers”, published by the SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy in 2018, which walks teachers through financial planning, saving, debt management, investment options, and avoiding fraud. Continue reading ›

Scott Silver, managing partner of Silver Law Group and a leading investor advocate, recently submitted a comment letter to the SEC addressing the importance of mutual funds fairly characterizing the fund in its title or name.  The SEC says that it sought comments from the public “on the framework for addressing names of registered investment companies that are likely to mislead investors about a fund’s investments and risks pursuant to section 35(d) of the Investment company Act of 1940, rule 35d- thereunder, and the antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws.”Scott Silver, managing partner of Silver Law Group and a leading investor advocate, recently submitted a comment letter to the SEC addressing the importance of mutual funds fairly characterizing the fund in its title or name.

The SEC says that it sought comments from the public “on the framework for addressing names of registered investment companies that are likely to mislead investors about a fund’s investments and risks pursuant to section 35(d) of the Investment company Act of 1940, rule 35d- thereunder, and the antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws.” Continue reading ›

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Binary Options Fraud

Binary Options fraud is on the rise in recent years as regulators and government agencies continue to receive hundreds of complaints with losses totaling in the millions of dollars in the United States alone. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) issued a news release and the staggering damages associated with this type of fraud just keep increasing. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) has also issued an Investor Alert concerning Binary Options and Fraud due to the increased number of victims of these schemes. Along with the FBI, the SEC is hoping to educate investors in order to prevent them from falling victim to these schemes.

Silver Law Group and The Law Firm of David Chase are reviewing potential claims of fraudulent inducement of federal employees into purchasing high fee paying variable annuity products by LPL Financial LLC (CRD#6413) affiliated brokers Brandon Long (CRD# 5975459) , Christopher S Laws (CRD#4479529) , Johnathan Dax Cooke (CRD#5365691) and Danny Scott Hood (CRD#3236852).

Variable annuities (“VAs”) are highly-complex financial products.  According to FINRA, a good way to think of a VA is as a cross between an insurance product and an investment product.

Like other annuities, a VA is a contract between the investor and an insurance company.  The investor pays the insurer a single payment or a series of payments called premiums.  In exchange for those premiums, the insurer promises to make periodic payments to you either immediately or at some point in the future.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) has formed a new group to increase oversight of private equity and hedge funds.  The SEC has assigned two former industry veterans to oversee the unit.  The SEC frequently creates these units when it sees increased activity in a particular type of investment product or is concerned that a particular segment of the securities industry may be violating the federal securities laws.  Over the last decade, alternative investments such as private equity and hedge funds have become very popular, and sales of these types of funds have expanded from the institutional level to the retail investor level.

The SEC’s 2014 Compliance Outreach Program focused on alternative investments such as hedge funds.   Private funds run by private equity firms, hedge funds, venture capital funds and other alternative investments have been the subject of heightened scrutiny during the last several years, furthered by the creation of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in the wake of the financial crisis.

At the 2014 SEC Compliance Outreach Program, the SEC brought attention to a number of concerns it has relating to private equity.  Among the SEC’s rising concerns in this area are vague limited partnership agreements and poor disclosure practices to limited partnerships at private equity funds, the shifting of fees and expenses at those funds, and misleading performance and valuation metrics at private equity firms and hedge funds.

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