After incurring a stock loss, seeking a stock loss recovery firm seems like a good move if you suspect that your stock broker mishandled your account, or deliberating made buy and/or sales for their own gain, not yours. So how can contracting a stock loss recovery specialist be the wrong move? It isn’t unless you contract the wrong company.
According to FINRA in their alerts, the stock loss recovery segment of the industry has seen the rise of scams. The cite warning signs, like high-pressure sales calls, salesmen that find you instead of you reaching out to them. In some cases the very brokers that were barred from the securities industry for fraud, sometimes stealing millions of dollars from unsuspecting clients, are the same guys popping up and now offering to help you recover lost investments due to broker misconduct.
One of the primary telltale signs of less than reputable stock loss recovery firms is when they ask for thousands of dollars up front. They’ll assure you that it’s just for expenses, not for them, and you’ll get it back from winning the case anyway.
We came across a company called Cold Spring Advisory who seems to fit the profile. We’re not categorically telling you that they are a scam, just that they could be. You’ll have to make that decision for yourself. They claim to be the largest stock loss recovery firm in the nation, yet the only place you can find that statement is on their own website, press releases that appear on sites as news articles, but were actually written and published by them.
How does it work?
Companies like this sometimes contact you out of the blue and seem to know a lot about your trading account. At first this may give you a sense that they know their stuff. But in many cases these companies get their access to client lists of brokerage companies they’re targeting. They proceed to give you a high-pressure sales job; they’ll tell you your case is strong and the likely hood of success is high, though they can’t ‘guarantee’ it.
In one case a client claims Cold Spring Advisory Group charged $6,000 in upfront fees, then did nothing. There was another case where the attorney missed appearances and the arbitration fees kept accumulating.
In fact, as it relates to Cold Spring Advisory Group, the lawsuits against them – like the one filed by National Securities alleging that Cold Spring Advisory Group obtained their client list illegally –, are not the most concerning aspect of their business. The owner is Michelle Ottimo, who has no securities background whatsoever, and is the wife of Louis Ottimo, who many surmise is the practical force behind the company’s operations. And his past record in the securities industry is littered with liens, judgements, sanctions, and bankruptcies. In fact, he just filed personal bankruptcy not too long ago.
Cold Spring Advisory Group and Louis Ottimo are not alone. There are many bad investment firms out there, and the bad brokers tend to follow there employment from one failed company to another.
So, if you get a call from out of the blue inquiring into your stock investments, and/or specifically about a loss, beware! When it seems to be good true to be true, it usually isn’t. Check what firms they’ve gone after to determine if it is a wide variety, or focused in on just a few. That latter may be a tip-off that they may have obtained a client list that they are targeting. A little attentiveness can help you save thousands or tens of thousands of dollars. If you’ve lost money in the securities industry, move slow, find credible lawyers and/or recovery firms. No need losing more money on top of your existing loss because you moved to quickly with doing the research.