by Brian Mahany
On December 21st, I attended an outdoor doomsday party in New Orleans. The promoters anticipated 10,000 revelers for the big event. My guess is that 500 showed up. Evidently, not many people thought the world was ending or if they did, they found better ways of celebrating than drinking beer in New Orleans. As I write this, I am back in New Orleans for New Year’s Eve and USA Today reports that the possibility of falling off the “fiscal cliff” at midnight looms large. While the fiscal cliff is certainly real, the true victims of financial hardship remain the victims of banking and investment fraud.
When the Bernie Madoff story broke a couple years ago, I saw my former boss pictured in the Wall Street Journal. A brilliant lawyer, she still managed to lose most of her life savings to Madoff. We represent a quadriplegic homeowner who lost his home because of a “mistake” made by Bank of America. We represent a woman in her 90’s who faces losing everything because of the greed and fraud by a local banker. While we often see the faces of those arrested and charged with fraud on the evening news, the faces of their thousands of victims are rarely seen nor are their stories told.
We try to tell some of those stories here. Not to convey a sense of hopelessness and despair but to help people avoid a similar fate. Even for the victims, thankfully there is often a remedy if people have the strength to keep up the good fight.
The Madoff victims are likely to never get back 100 cents on the dollar but there is some justice in knowing that Bernie Madoff will die in prison and never be able to defraud another innocent victim. As a former prosecutor and law enforcement officer, I laud the efforts of the Department of Justice and countless state prosecutors who work hard to stem the epidemic of fraud. Although we may be critical that not enough is being done, those criticisms are aimed at the policy makers and not the rank and file special agents and assistant United States attorneys.
Holding criminals accountable by taking them out of society is only half the battle. To return to any semblance of a normal life, victims need to get back their hard earned money. That’s where we step in.
Although our mission in this blog is to educate people before they become victims, we unfortunately know that 2013 is probably going to be a banner year for fraudsters. As the economy softens, more and more criminals will come out to victimize anyone with money. Investment scams often target the elderly and those with diminished capacity. Big banks and mortgage companies frequently target desperate homeowners struggling to stay afloat.
If you lost your hard earned money to a dishonest banker, fraudulent foreclosure or HAMP denial, bogus 419 plan or other abusive tax shelter, dishonest stockbroker or even a dishonest (or inept) lawyer, give us a call. Attorneys Bethany Kroes, Joseph Bird, Anthony Dietz, Al Sargent, Wassim Malas, Daryl Laatsch, Christopher Ertl, Mark Kallenbach, Michelle Kallenbach and our affiliated counsels join me in pledging our renewed commitment to stop fraud and help victims recover.
2013 may well be a banner year in the annals of fraud history but it doesn’t have to be a doomsday. If you lost money to a fraudster, don’t despair. You are not alone.
Mahany & Ertl – America’s Fraud Lawyers. Offices in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Portland, Maine; Detroit, Michigan; Minneapolis, Minnesota and coming soon, San Francisco, California.
For more information on what we do, contact attorney Brian Mahany at . Have an immediate issue that can’t wait? Contact Brian by telephone at (414) 704-6731. All inquiries kept in strict confidence, of course.