When most people hear about fraudulent investment advice, they think of Bernie Madoff and other scam artists who take your money and spend it on themselves. This type of blatant fraud is surprisingly common. This week, the SEC announced that it had obtained a court order freezing the assets of a Georgia-based investment adviser who had apparently gone into hiding after orchestrating a $40 million investment fraud.
The adviser, Aubrey Lee Price, allegedly concealed investment losses by creating bogus account statements with false account balances and returns.Most investors don’t have to worry about that kind of fraud. In this post-Madoff era, investors are more cautious about promises that seem too good to be true. However, there is far more pervasive conduct that takes place daily in almost every brokerage firm in this country, which can have devastating consequences to investors. In my view, it is a variant of fraud that few investors understand.