SEC Files Complaint Against Alleged Ponzi-Scheme Fraudster

By: Jason Robinson, Summer 2015 Graduate Research Assistant

The SEC recently filed a complaint concerning a Miami-based Ponzi scheme.  In 2007, Phil Williamson allegedly began to recruit investors for an investment fund called the Sterling Fund. Mr. Williamson allegedly told potential investors that there was no risk involved and that the investment would return 8-12% annually. Many of the investors in the Sterling Fund were public sector retirees who had limited experience with investing. A former police chief, two prison corrections officers and a school principal were some of the victims of Mr. Williamson’s alleged Ponzi scheme. Continue reading

Securities Helpline for Seniors

By Jason Robinson, Summer 2015 Graduate Research Assistant

Seniors are one of the fastest growing segments of the American population. Often times these individuals no longer have a steady income and are at a higher risk for expensive health complications. The Financial Industry Regulatory Agency (FINRA) recognized the vulnerabilities of these individuals and has made a concerted effort to introduce new initiatives to protect them.

One of these initiatives is the Securities Helpline for Seniors (844-57-HELPS or 844-575-3577): a toll-free helpline available Monday through Friday from 9:00 A.M.- 5:00 P.M. where seniors can get neutral and knowledgeable assistance. The helpline focuses on assisting seniors with: Continue reading

SEC and FINRA Report on National Senior Investor Initiative

By Patricia Uceda, Spring 2015 Graduate Research Assistant

As we’ve discussed, senior investors are highly susceptible to investment fraud due to their accumulated wealth and the fact that some may suffer from diminished capacity. This issue is of growing concern to securities regulators given that approximately 10,000 Americans will turn 65 every day for the next 15 years. Continue reading

SEC Brings Charges Against Two Dozen Unregistered Broker-Dealers

By Patricia Uceda, Spring 2015 Graduate Research Assistant

The SEC recently charged two dozen with selling unregistered securities. According to the SEC:

“An SEC investigation found that Global Fixed Income LLC, which was primarily in the business of purchasing investment grade corporate bonds, entered into agreements with third parties that acted as unregistered broker-dealers on its behalf and bought billions of dollars’ worth of newly issued bonds causing Global Fixed Income’s allocation in the bond offerings to increase.  Because the offerings were often oversubscribed, Global Fixed Income was generally able to sell or ‘flip’ the bonds within a few days for a small profit compared to the dollar value of the trade, and it split profits with the third-party participants.”

None of the third parties were registered as broker-dealers, and that is a violation of the law. SEC’s broker-dealer registration requirements ensure the protection of investors because the SEC inspects broker-dealers’ books and records.

SEC Investor Alert: SEC Seal Scams

By Patricia Uceda, Spring 2015 Graduate Research Assistant

Have you seen the SEC’s seal on an investment product?  If so, beware.  The SEC has learned that investment fraudsters are using the SEC seal as a way to convince investors that their frauds are legitimate, and you should avoid them at all costs.

According to an Updated Investor Alert, “The SEC does not ‘approve’ or ‘endorse’ any particular securities, issuers, products, loans, services, professional credentials, firms or individuals, and does not allow private entities to use its government seal.” Continue reading

Saving For Retirement: A Few More Tips…

By Patricia Uceda, Spring 2015 Graduate Research Assistant

We hope that you’ve enjoyed this past month of retirement savings tips, and that we’ve inspired you to get started on your own retirement plan. Nothing is more important than ensuring your financial security in your later years. For our last tip in this series, we’d like you to do your own homework and learn more: check out the Department of Labor’s “Savings Fitness:  A Guide to Your Money and Your Financial Future.”

Saving For Retirement: Pension Plans?

By Patricia Uceda, Spring 2015 Graduate Research Assistant

While they may seem like a thing of the past, if your employer offers a pension plan you should consider taking advantage of it.  With a pension plan, your employer makes contributions that you can use in the future for retirement.  Plans can either be defined benefit plans, where you are guaranteed a certain amount when you retire or a defined contribution plan where you receive funds upon retirement based upon how your employer’s investments fare.