The Chicago-based investment and consumer fraud attorneys at Stoltmann Law Offices are time-tested lawyers who have a combined fifty years of experience arbitrating, mediating, and litigating disputes on behalf of victims of investment, securities, and consumer fraud. Investment loss can be devastating. For many, the funds lost due to fraud or incompetence of investment advisors or brokerage firms, can have tragic repercussions on retirement savings and lifestyle. You work your entire life to build a retirement nest egg you deem sufficient to maintain your lifestyle into retirement - You have finally made it. And then an unscrupulous financial advisor sells you unsuitable investments, commits fraud, or does something that loses your retirement nest egg. If you are the victim of financial negligence or fraud, rest assured, the attorneys at Stoltmann Law Offices, P.C. have the experience, the grit, and the determination to secure the settlement, arbitration award, or jury verdict you are entitled to in order to put you back on your financial feet. We offer representation to our clients nationwide and offer contingency fee engagements which mean we do not get paid until you do.
If you are the victim of investment or securities fraud or negligence, there are several types of damages you can pursue. Traditionally, compensatory damages in investment cases are referred to as "net out of pocket". Simply put, if you lost $100,000 in a bad investment that was unsuitable for you or sold to you based on misrepresentations or omissions of material facts, you can bring a claim against the company that sold you that investment. In this example, if you invested $100,000, received $10,000 back in the form of distributions or interest, your "net loss" would be $90,000.
Ponzi and Fraud Schemes - Suing Brokerage Firms for Negligent Supervision. Too many times victims of Ponzi or other investment fraud schemes are left with no viable defendant to pursue. Most times, victims are defrauded by someone running his own fund and commits crimes in connection with it and the money is gone. Sometimes, however, the advisor who executed the fraud is a registered, licensed representative of a FINRA registered brokerage firm or an SEC or state registered Investment Advisor. Even if you weren't a formal "client" of the brokerage firm the advisor worked for, you can still bring a claim against the brokerage firm or investment company for negligent supervision. The investment and brokerage industry is highly regulated and requires substantial compliance and supervisory structures designed to deter and detect securities law violations.
State Securities Act Claims Against Advisor, Brokers, and Their Firms - We filter all of our investor cases through the state securities act for the state where the investor lived when the investment was originally solicited. Under most state securities acts, there are two different damages models. The first is where the investor still owns the investment for whatever reason. Many times, investments are illiquid and cannot be sold. The appropriate remedy in this situation is called "rescission". Under most state securities acts, rescission is defined by a simple equation: the cost of the investment, plus interest at a statutory rate, plus reasonable attorney's fees, costs of litigation or arbitration, minus any money received from the investment, and an exchange of the security back to the seller. If the investor no longer owns the investment and was able to sell it and realize losses, the remedy is: losses (defined as the "net loss") statutory interest, attorney's fees, and costs.
State Consumer Fraud Statutes Against Brokers, Advisors, and Their Firms - Many times, our clients' investment fraud claims qualify as consumer fraud under state consumer fraud statutes. These statutes are traditionally liberally construed and offer victims wide ranging remedies, including in some instances, punitive or treble (three times) damages. Statutory consumer fraud is easier to plead and prove than the common law fraud cousin.
Unsuitable Investment Recommendations - Negligence and Breach of Fiduciary Duty Claims: Generally, there is no actual cause of action for "unsuitability". It is a creature of duty-based common law claims like negligence and breach of fiduciary duty. There are many states which hold all financial advisors to a fiduciary standard, regardless of what you hear on the news or what your broker tells you. Those states include California, Missouri, and Iowa, amongst others. In other states, the duty a financial advisor or broker owes you is the standard duty of care owed by similarly situated professionals. These advisors are licensed professionals. They owe you a high duty of care regardless of whether they are held to a fiduciary or negligence standard. Fundamentally, a broker, financial advisor, or investment advisor is duty-bound to only recommend investments that are "suitable." This standard is rooted in FINRA Rules and is also referenced in most state securities acts. This concept requires a financial advisor to base his recommendations on your financial resources, like income and net worth, prior to recommending any investment to you. This concept also applies to portfolio-wide obligations like asset allocation, diversification, and recommended trading strategies. It also requires a brokerage firm to understand the risks and characteristics of any investment prior to offering it for sale to you.
Fraud Based Claims: - This cause of action is based on misrepresentations and omissions. We allege common law fraud whenever the facts support it. Although more difficult to prove than consumer fraud or state securities act violations, those statutes typically have shorter statutes of limitation than common law fraud. To the degree you lose your statutory claims based on a technicality, your case would survive under common law fraud. If your advisor misrepresented something about an investment to you, like a private placement, for example, and told you the investment was audited by an accounting firm, or reviewed for compliance by a law firm, and that was not true, those would be omissions of material fact. If evidence establishes that the advisor was merely negligent by omitting these facts, then you have a claim for negligent misrepresentation. If these omissions or misrepresentations are proven to be done with intent to deceive, then you have a fraud based claim.
Breach of Contract Claims: - Each time you open a brokerage account or an account with an investment advisor, you sign a contract. Whether it is called a new account form or investment policy statement, these documents outline the contractual duties and obligations owed by the firm or broker to you. We plead a breach of contract in virtually every case. If your advisor sold you an unsuitable investment or recommended a risky investment strategy that was not in compliance with your risk tolerance or investment recommendations, then you could have a viable breach of contract claim.
Claims Against Telecom Companies for SIM Swap Fraud - T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon are the "big three" telecommunications companies that provide cellular services to customers. A SIM Card is the little card inside your phone that holds the special key that allows your phone to communicate with the cellular network. Is someone somehow gets control of your SIM, they effectively have your phone. Today, because we are so security-conscious (or should be) we use heightened security measures like 2-factor authentication on our financial accounts and even our emails. What that means is, before your Coinbase or brokerage account will accept a password change or even certain transactions, you have to input that 2FA code - which gets texted to your cell number. If a hacker has your SIM, the hacker gets that code and your accounts are now in control of a hacker. These hackers have playbooks and know what they are doing. They act fast, usually within an hour of your SIM card being "swapped" to another device. By the time you realize it, you've already had your assets stolen. Cellphone companies are required to protect your personal information and the contents of your SIM Card are extremely sensitive and important. They know SIM-Swapping is a huge problem impacting customers, but they do not do nearly enough to protect their customers from these fraudsters. Stoltmann Law Offices represents SIM-Swap victims in claims against companies like AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile.
False Advertising and Consumer Fraud Based Claims - We represent clients who are victims of false advertisements. Whether it be for students of for-profit colleges who relied on false advertisements to enroll and pay tuition, or consumers who relied on some other false advertisements in order to purchase a product, we have experience bringing these claims under multiple state consumer fraud statutes.
General Litigation Claims: Stoltmann Law Offices also represents clients in specific collection and structured settlement matters. We work with parties to structure settlements and then to collect on those settlements in the event the paying-party defaults on the agreement. We also represent clients in business and partnership breakups and disputes. Sometimes our representation of investors leads to claims against accounting firms and law firms and we pursue those claims aggressively to make our clients whole.
If you have lost money in your investment or retirement accounts because your advisor acted negligently or committed fraud, contact the investment and consumer fraud attorneys at Stoltmann Law Offices, P.C., for a no-obligation initial consultation. We offer representation nationwide to victims of investment and consumer fraud. Call us at 312-332-4200 or contact us via our website.
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