Reporting Investment Fraud
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Investment fraud refers to a wide range of deceptive practices that scammers use to induce investors to make investing decisions. These practices can include untrue or misleading information or fictitious opportunities. Investment fraud may involve stocks, bonds, notes, commodities, currency or even real estate. This could include pyramid schemes, Ponzi schemes, pump-and-dumps, advance fee fraud, off-shore scams and other types of scams.
If you believe you have been a victim of investment fraud, we recommend taking these steps to help you move forward.
- Create a Fraud File. Start by collecting relevant documentation concerning the fraud in one file that's kept in a secure location. The file should include:
- a contact sheet of the perpetrator's name, mail and email addresses, telephone numbers and website address, as well as any of the fraudster's purported regulatory registration numbers;
- a timeline of events, which may span many years;
- the police report, if any;
- your most recent credit report from all three credit reporting companies (See box);
- any evidence of the fraud or deception;
- logs of any phone conversations, with dates, names and phone numbers of any representatives with whom you spoke, and notes on what information they gave you; and
- any other relevant documentation concerning the fraud.
- Know Your Rights. You have rights imparted by federal and in some cases, state law. Learn about your rights to better protect yourself.
- For federal victim rights, the U.S. Department of Justice provides information on victim rights and financial fraud.
- For state victim rights, check with your state Attorney General.
- The North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) publishes an "Investor Bill of Rights".
- FINRA offers information on conduct that is prohibited in the securities industry.
- Report to Regulators. The entities below are the national, federal and state regulatory agencies for investment products and professionals. You may benefit from reporting the fraud to as many agencies as apply.
Financial Industry Regulatory Authority
9509 Key West Avenue
Rockville, MD 20850-3329
Phone: (301) 590-6500 – for all investors
Toll Free: (844) 57-HELPS / (844) 574-3577 – FINRA Securities Helpline for Senior InvestorsTM
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
Office of Investor Education and Advocacy
100 F Street, NE
Washington, DC 20549-5631
North American Securities Administrators Association
Find contact information for your state-specific securities regulator.
National Association of Insurance Commissioners
Find contact information for your state-specific insurance regulator, report fraud or file a complaint.
National Futures Association
Compliance Department – Customer Complaints
300 South Riverside Plaza, Suite 1800
Chicago, IL 60606
U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission
Office of Cooperative Enforcement
1155 21 Street, NW
Washington, DC 20581
(866) FON-CFTC / (866) 366-2382
Internet Crime Complaint Center
A partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center
- Report the Fraud to Law Enforcement. Reporting the investment fraud to law enforcement is important to being the recovery process, ensure the responsible parties are investigated, and prevent further damage to other individuals.
- Local Law Enforcement – Contact any local law enforcement office to file a police report.
- District Attorney – Contact your local District Attorney’s Office.
- Attorney General – Contact your Attorney General’s Consumer Protection unit and the prosecution unit to report the fraud. Find contact information at www.naag.org.
- Federal Law Enforcement – Contact your local FBI Field Office or submit an online tip.
- Report the Fraud to the Federal Trade Commission. To file a report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), contact the FTC’s Complaint Assistant.
- Consider Civil Remedies. You may be able to recover some of your lost assets through arbitration, mediation, or a civil lawsuit. If a securities broker is involved in the fraud, you may file an arbitration claim with or without an attorney. FINRA offers an overview of the dispute resolution process.
In some cases, the best potential for recovery of lost assets is through civil suits. Civil attorneys who work for victims of financial fraud can analyze the particular facts and circumstances of your case and counsel you on the available civil remedies. You should be aware that civil lawsuits take time, and even if you prevail, it can be difficult to collect on a judgment, especially if money or other assets have disappeared.
The National Crime Victim Bar Association and the Public Investors Arbitration Bar Association can provide referrals to attorneys who litigate on behalf of victims of crime or injured investors, respectively, who may offer you an initial consultation at no cost or obligation.
In addition, some law schools provide services to victims in the form of investor advocacy or securities arbitration clinics. Search the FINRA or SEC website for a list of clinics.
- Follow up. Review the steps you’ve taken and follow up after 30 days with any law enforcement agencies or organizations that serve victims.
For details about how to recover from other types of financial fraud, see our full list of Victim Recovery Checklists.