Securities and Financial Fraud, Scams on the Rise in Montana
Washington, D.C.- As Montana victims of the Madoff scam and other investment schemes continue to emerge, Montana State Auditor Monica Lindeen will meet with members of the Montana delegation in Washington D.C. this week to discuss the effects of the financial crisis on Montana investors. Lindeen says the meetings will help ensure that any regulatory reform benefits the Main Street Montana investors who look upon Wall Street, regulators, and lawmakers to help them build and safeguard their financial security.
“Working together is the best way to protect the integrity of the marketplace and to shield consumers from fraud and abuse,” said Lindeen. “In these financial times, we need to do everything we can to protect investors. Sharing information about the scope of the problem and the effects on Montanans is the first step.”
The State Auditor’s Office is currently examining a Montana investment adviser who placed a majority of his 33 clients’ investment dollars, over $18 million, in Madoff investments. So far, at least two additional Montana Madoff victims have come forward.
Investigations into other securities scams at Lindeen’s office is also up substantially as compared to last year with estimated monetary losses to Montanans up at as much as 1000%. As the result of the financial market chaos, the Montana State Auditor’s office has over 35 active consumer securities complaints – including 17 complaints representing economic damages in excess of $100,000 and 14 matters involving losses of more than $1,000,000.
These complaints involve more than 632 known Montana investors. The approximate economic damages exceed $168,392,000.
Lindeen said this is critical time for Montana investors, “We must make sure that there is system of financial services which regulation protects investors, markets, and the economy as a whole. Main Street investors deserve a regulatory structure that is accessible, comprehensive, and strong.”
Lindeen says that the decisions made over the coming months have the potential to fundamentally change how the financial services industry does business, and how Main Street Montana investors are served and protected.
In the next several months Lindeen’s office will be negotiating and entering into settlement agreements with the a large number of financial services firms in regards to resolving securities fraud allegations relative to auction rate securities. These firms sold allegedly unsuitable and now illiquid investments to more than 450 Montanans and are currently returning approximately $120 million to Montanans.
“Senator Baucus and Senator Tester have long stood for responsibility, accountability, and transparency in government,” said Lindeen. “Montanans can be proud of their values. We can work together to share information and ideas to protect investors and the financial markets that these investors have come to rely on for their long-term financial security.”
The Montana State Auditor’s office plays a key role in educating investors in communities across the state about the perils of investment fraud. In the area of securities regulation, Montana has a long track record of investor protection, and also serves as a local resource that investors can turn to for help when they have been exploited.
Any Montanans considering investing can call the State Auditor’s Office to check out the individual advisor, the firm, and the investment opportunity. The agency can tell investors if the advisors are properly licensed, check their backgrounds, and let investors know how long they have been in the industry and see if any complaints have been filed against them. The State Auditor’s office can be reached at 1-800-332-6148.