It's Consumer Protection Week, and the state Department of Financial Institutions notes that the top financial fraud topics these days include:
Unregistered sales of securities, securities fraud, affinity fraud (meaning scams aimed at specific groups, such as church congregations) and fraud against seniors.
The top financial products involved in schemes include:
Promissory notes, real estate investments and oil and gas investments.
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The top problems involving registered investment firms:
“Conversion by agents” (which is essentially theft), and “suitability” (wherein suggested securities may be unsuitable for a client’s obvious investment goals).
In 2010, DFI’s Division of Consumer Services:
Received 1,879 complaints and began 271 new investigations.
Closed or requested action on 806 cases; took action on 415 cases.
Received $160,605 in restitution and levied fines of $793,243.
The DFI Division of Securities:
Took 129 administrative actions; filed one civil action and four criminal actions.
Recognized 93,583 victims who lost more than $2 billion.
Returned $2.05 billion to Washington investors in auction-rate securities cases, and an additional $3.7 billion in the Wells Fargo case.
Collected fines of more than $5 million and ordered restitution of nearly $12 million.
For more on consumer protection and fraud visit dfi.wa.gov.