Securities Fraud - Pervasiveness of Securities Fraud

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Pervasiveness of Securities Fraud

The Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) reports that the Federal Trade Commission, FBI, and state securities regulators estimate that investment fraud in the United States ranges from $10–$40 billion annually. Of that number, SIPC estimates that $1–3 Billion is directly attributable to microcap stock fraud. Fraudulent schemes perpetrated in the securities and commodities markets can ultimately have a devastating impact on the viability and operation of these markets.

Class action securities fraud lawsuits rose 43 percent between 2006 and 2007, according to the Stanford Law School Securities Class Action Clearinghouse. During 2006 and 2007, securities fraud class actions were driven by market wide events, such as the 2006 backdating scandal and the 2007 subprime crisis. Securities fraud lawsuits remained below historical averages.

Some manifestations of this white collar crime have become more frequent as the Internet gives criminals greater access to prey. The trading volume in the United States securities and commodities markets, having grown dramatically in the 1990s, has led to an increase in fraud and misconduct by investors, executives, shareholders, and other market participants.

Securities fraud is becoming more complex as the industry develops more complicated investment vehicles. In addition, white collar criminals are expanding the scope of their fraud and are looking outside the United States for new markets, new investors, and banking secrecy havens to hide unjust enrichment.

A study conducted by the New York Stock Exchange in the mid-1990s reveals approximately 51.4 million individuals owned some type of traded stock, while 200 million individuals owned securities indirectly. These same financial markets provide the opportunity for wealth to be obtained and the opportunity for white collar criminals to take advantage of unwary investors.

Recovery of assets from the proceeds of securities fraud is a resource intensive and expensive undertaking because of the cleverness of fraudsters in concealment of assets and money laundering, as well as the tendency of many criminals to be profligate spenders. A victim of securities fraud is usually fortunate to recover any money from the defrauder.

Sometimes the losses caused by securities fraud are difficult to quantify. For example, insider trading is believed to raise the cost of capital for securities issuers, thus decreasing overall economic growth.

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Famous quotes containing the word fraud:

    There exists in a great part of the Northern people a gloomy diffidence in the moral character of the government. On the broaching of this question, as general expression of despondency, of disbelief that any good will accrue from a remonstrance on an act of fraud and robbery, appeared in those men to whom we naturally turn for aid and counsel. Will the American government steal? Will it lie? Will it kill?—We ask triumphantly.
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882)