What Is Securities Fraud?
Securities fraud, also referred to as stock or investment fraud, is a type of serious white-collar crime that can be committed in a variety of forms but primarily involves misrepresenting information investors use to make decisions.
At the Morales Law firm, our securities fraud lawyers in San Francisco help companies or individuals to understand and navigate through the intricacy of these charges.
Understanding Securities Fraud
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) describes securities fraud as criminal activity that can include high yield investment fraud, Ponzi schemes, pyramid schemes, advance fee schemes, foreign currency fraud, broker embezzlement, hedge fund related fraud, and late-day trading. In many cases, the fraudster seeks to dupe investors through misrepresentation and to manipulate financial markets in some way.
This crime includes providing false information, withholding key information, offering bad advice, and offering or acting on inside information.
Types of Securities Fraud
Securities fraud takes on many forms. In fact, there is no shortage of methods used to trick investors with false information.
- High-yield investment fraud, for example, may come with guarantees of high rates of return while claiming there is little to no risk. The investments themselves may be in commodities, securities, real estate, and other categories.
- Advance fee schemes can follow a more subtle strategy, where the fraudster convinces their targets to advance them small amounts of money that are promised to result in greater returns. Sometimes the money is requested to cover processing fees and taxes for the funds that allegedly await to be disbursed.
- Ponzi and pyramid schemes typically draw upon the funds furnished by new investors to pay the returns that were promised to prior investors caught up in the arrangement. Such schemes require the fraudsters to continuously recruit more and more victims to maintain the sham for as long as possible.
- One of the newer types of securities fraud is Internet fraud. This type of scheme is also referred to as a “pump-and-dump” scheme, in which people use chat rooms and forums to spread false or fraudulent information concerning stocks. The intention is to force a price increase in those stocks—the pump, and then once the price reaches a certain level, they sell them off—the dump.
The FBI warns that security fraud is often noted by unsolicited offers and high-pressure sales tactics on the part of the fraudster, along with demands for personal information such as credit card information and Social Security numbers. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the FBI, and other federal and state agencies investigate allegations of securities fraud. The crime can carry both criminal and civil penalties, resulting in imprisonment and fines.
Who Can Commit Securities Fraud?
Individuals and businesses can commit securities fraud. At The Morales Law Firm, our experienced securities fraud lawyers in San Francisco can represent the party or parties who have been charged with securities fraud.
- Brokers-dealers (misleading clients or advising based on inside information)
- Financial advisors or analysts (purposefully offering poor advice or inside information)
- Corporations (hiding or distorting information)
- Private investors (acting on inside information)
Seek Legal Counsel
Consult with securities fraud lawyers in San Francisco from The Morales Law firm for legal advice on your case.