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JPMorgan Broker Faces Prison After Gambling Away $20 Million of Investors’ Funds

September 9, 2016 Blog

As an individual investor, it is crucial that you are able to trust your broker. Unfortunately, sometimes there is simply nothing you can do to make sure that your investment account is completely secure.

Consider, for example, the recent case of one former JPMorgan broker who recently received a five-year prison sentence after stealing more than $20 million from his clients. The broker, Michael Oppenheim, blamed the theft on a gambling addition – a factor the judge considered in giving Mr. Oppenheim less than the 10-year sentence requested by the prosecution.

From 500 Clients and $90 Million Under Management to Federal Prison

According to news reports citing Mr. Oppenheim’s own testimony as well as statements from his attorneys, the former JPMorgan broker started out betting on NFL games. As his gambling losses mounted, he raided his clients’ investment accounts in order to try to recover what he had lost. At the same time, he made high-risk investments in hopes of quickly replacing the stolen funds.

The strategy backfired. The risky investments resulted in millions of dollars in additional losses.

As Mr. Oppenheim continued to bleed his clients’ investment accounts – ultimately to the tune of more than $20 million – he tried to cover up the theft by falsifying his clients’ account statements and misrepresenting that he was withdrawing his clients’ funds in order to invest them in low-risk municipal bonds. Eventually, his scheme was uncovered, and now he is facing half a decade behind bars.

For its part, JPMorgan has stated that it is working with the affected investors to ensure that their stolen funds are returned.

What Can Individual Investors Do to Protect Themselves Against Broker Theft?

As an individual investor, what can you do to make sure something similar doesn’t happen to you? The answer, unfortunately, isn’t completely straightforward. While some brokers have a history of improper conduct (which you can research through FINRA and the SEC), others, like Mr. Oppenheim, turn to criminal activity after securing the trust of their clients. Over decades of trading, Mr. Oppenheim had developed a client base of 500 investors. When he perpetrated his scheme, he targeted 10 of his highest-net-worth clients. With millions of dollars at stake, even these investors trusted Mr. Oppenheim to invest their funds with their best interests in mind.

If you are concerned that you may be a victim of investment fraud, it is critical that you speak with an attorney right away. It may not be too late to recover your losses, and to give yourself the best chance of securing a full recovery you need to take action as soon as possible.

Speak with an Investment Fraud Attorney at Zamansky LLC

For more information about what you can do if you suspect your broker of engaging in fraudulent conduct, contact Zamansky LLC for a free, confidential consultation. With offices in the heart of Wall Street, we represent individual investors nationwide. To speak with an experienced investment fraud attorney, call (212) 742-1414 or request a consultation online today.