Better Business Bureau - With offices nationally, in every state and most large and mid-sized cities, the BBB can alert you to problems with local businesses, work-at-home programs, distributorships, sales routes you can buy and other one-on-one type rip-offs. They usually have lists of current online offers that are suspect or drawing lots of complaints. You can access the national BBB Web site at http://www.bbb.org/us/
and navigate to your home state or city chapter from there.
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) - Information is available on all securities-related fraud issues and investment scams, and you can file your own personal complaints or suspicions online at http://www.sec.gov/complaint.shtml. You can write them at: Securities and Exchange Commission, Office of Investor Education & Assistance, 450 Fifth Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20549-0213, or fax a complaint to 202-942-9634. You also can verify financials and regulatory standing on all publicly traded U.S. companies by accessing the SEC's EDGAR Database at: http://www.sec.gov/edgar.shtml.
Your SEC complaint can be anonymous or you can provide only limited personal data. However, the more information you give them, the more likely they'll be able to help you. Either way, include specific details about how, why and when you were bilked with any contact info you have on the fraudulent person or company involved.
Indeed, over the past 40 years, only one new entry has been added to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) roster of "Top 10" investment scams - the very broad category of "Internet fraud." The other financial rip-offs listed are merely new versions of tried and true swindles that have been around for decades or more - from Ponzi schemes and pyramid systems to phony stock offerings and commodity cons.
The big difference is that the one new category - Internet fraud (and the computers on which the Internet operates) - has greatly increased the frequency, speed and effectiveness of the other types of financial fraud, as well as exponentially increasing the scammers' take.
The New York-based Goldman said it earned reported first quarter earnings of $3.46 billion today (Tuesday), or $5.59 a share, an increase of 91% from earnings of $1.66 billion, or $3.39 a share, for the same period a year ago. The earnings report came just days after the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed a civil fraud case against the Wall Street financial heavyweight.
Goldman's earnings beat analysts' average estimates of $4.16 a share. Its investment bank income revenue rose to $12.78 billion, and its fixed-income, currency and commodities trading generated net revenue of $7.39 billion.
Scores of traders hurried to sell off Goldman shares, causing the stock to sharply fall 12.8%. Meanwhile, spectators on Main Street cheered the thought of a financial giant - that has faced scrutiny for housing market investments, executive bonuses and bailout money - finally having to face the firing squad.
Money Morning readers' comments clearly expressed their negative feelings toward Wall Street, our government and the SEC: "Crooks, political snakes, fraudsters, soulless and self-interested leaders, running a corrupt nation..."
The SEC accused Goldman Sachs of failing to disclose vital information on a synthetic collateralized debt obligation (CDO) that was peddled to clients while the bank bet against its success, knowing the bank was likely to come out the winner. The SEC says Goldman used hedge fund Paulson & Co. to pick particularly risky securities for the product with a higher chance of collapsing.
The whole financial sector slid after the SEC's announcement. Goldman's stock fell over 12% Friday to close at $160.70 a share.
[This is the sixth installment of a new series that is exploring ways for investors to recover from the U.S. financial crisis.]
Bernie Madoff's guilty plea to a decades-long $50 billion-plus Ponzi scheme pretty much guarantees the 70-year-old will have his likeness immortalized on the Mt. Rushmore of scammers.
The former NASDAQ chairman's December arrest - with collapsing U.S. and overseas stock markets as a backdrop - kicked up a firestorm that has forced investors to take a much-closer look at who was managing their investments. Scores of investors have lost their life savings, retirees found their nest eggs gone and countless charities discovered that they were essentially out of business; the cash that they once handed out to worthy causes had disappeared.