Update on lawsuit against Equity Trust Company.
A lawsuit filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of California was dismissed by the court for failure to state a claim. A court of appeals upheld the dismissal in December, 2015. Named as a defendant in the lawsuit was IRA custodian Equity Trust Company.
Among the allegations against Equity Trust Company were that they lent an “air of legitimacy” to ponzi schemes and other scams, and knew or should have known that their company was being used by fraudsters to fleece unsuspecting retirees. After working its way through several courts, including a court of appeal, the case was finally dismissed in late 2015.
Even though the case was dismissed, the problem with fraudsters using self directed IRAs to rip off investors persists.
IRA custodians like Equity Trust Company allow individuals to make their own investment decisions with their IRA funds. Investors looking for non-traditional investments can roll “qualified” pretax funds from a 401k or a pension plan into a self-directed IRA. Once the funds are in the account the investor “directs” the IRA custodian to purchase an investment, which is usually memorialized by a promissory note, a contract or shares of stock. Once a year the IRA custodian will contact the investment sponsor and ask for a value on the investment, and will report that value to the IRS to ensure that the investor isn’t charged taxes on the investment.
Self-directed IRA custodians like Equity Trust Company allow investors to purchase investments that aren’t traded on the stock exchange. While this gives investors more choices, it also opens the door to being fleeced by unscrupulous investment promoters.
IRA custodian do little more than report the value of the asset in the IRA to the IRS on a yearly basis. They don’t delve into the wisdom of investing in any non-traditional investment, and certainly don’t perform any due diligence on the investment or the investment sponsor.
This lack of oversight allows scam artists to target retirees with promises of large returns, while using the reputation of the IRA custodian to infer that the investment has legitimacy. Ponzi schemers, sellers of unregistered securities and common thieves understand how to utilize the minimal duties of IRA custodians to their advantage. The SEC recognized that self-directed IRAs are traps for the unwary, and issued a bulletin for investors to consider before making the leap into self-directed IRAs.
If you are the victim of investment fraud, perpetrated through the use of a self-directed IRA at Equity Trust Company, please call The Law Office of David Liebrader at (702) 380-3131 for a free, confidential consultation to discuss your legal rights and options. Our firm takes cases on a straight contingency fee, with no money up front, and no money owed unless there is a recovery.
There is no charge for an initial consultation, so call (702) 380-3131 today to speak with an experienced securities attorney who will fight to recover your losses.
The Law Office of David Liebrader practices exclusively in the field of investment loss recovery. For the past 23 years, we have dedicated our law practice to assisting investors who have been victims of investment fraud via fraudulent and unsuitable investment transactions, including dozens that occurred through the use of self-directed IRAs. During that time we have recovered money for over one thousand individuals, pension plans, trusts and companies. Our recoveries on behalf of our clients exceed $40,000,000.