by Brian Mahany
The ink isn’t even dry on my last post about the SEC’s new initiative to ferret serial fraudsters and now a story from the Texas State Securities Board. Regulators in the lone star state say that William Byrne confessed to being an unregistered broker selling investments. Of course, the securities he was selling were also unregistered. What makes this case so interesting is that the state issued a cease and desist order against him in 2005 for doing the exact same thing.
Unfortunately, Byrne got away with defrauding people for several years before being caught again. According to press reports, this time Texas is criminally prosecuting him.
As we often see, a cease and desist order doesn’t do much to deter hard core fraudsters. Sometimes the only thing they understand is the inside of a jail cell. Sometimes that jail cell is necessary to protect the public.
Although the victims are certainly not at fault, this fraud could probably easily have been prevented. Many states, the SEC and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) publish the names of registered advisors and stockbrokers and their background too. Just 5 minutes on the computer and maybe a toll free call would have let investors know that neither Byrne nor the securities he was selling were registered. An obvious red flag.
Getting money back from unregistered brokers and investment advisors is difficult. Unless a legitimate brokerage firm or license holder is in the picture, its often difficult to collect from individuals. Especially if they are deadbeats and spent all the money. It’s even more difficult to collect if the fraudster is in jail. Prisoners earning 8 cents per hour can’t pay off multimillion dollar judgments.
If you lost your money to a fraudster, give us a call. Although we can’t guarantee results – no attorney can – we have been successful in recovering millions of dollars for our clients. Better yet, do a little due diligence before you invest (we can help with that too or steer you in the right direction.) For a confidential consultation, contact attorney Brian Mahany at (414) 704-6731 (direct) or by email at
Mahany & Ertl – America’s Fraud Lawyers. Offices in Milwaukee, Portland & Detroit. Legal services available in most states.