We work with investors and victims of the devastation of financial fraud. We know firsthand the toll financial losses can have on families. Our clients includes victims of Ponzi schemes, pump-and-dump conspiracies, “can’t fail” investments, embezzlements, and other thefts. Our clients want to recover what they can as soon as possible. Most are surprised to find out that the criminal authorities are little help. They get a conviction and an order of restitution that is never paid (or paid at a ridiculously low rate). Once a receiver is appointed, much of the money is used on legal fees, salaries, travel, and other investigation costs. It is rare that a receiver pays more than pennies on the dollar. Usually the only hope the victim has is finding a “deep pocket” (a wealthy person or entity) that was too close to the fraud and has some legal responsibility.
How did we come to be involved in pursuing financial fraud cases?
John Tollefsen experienced a devastating financial fraud when his best friend stole a large amount of money from him. It took three years to recover emotionally but gave him a passion to try to help financial fraud victims. He became a Certified Fraud Examiner in 2005 and a Certified Controls Specialist in 2009. Tollefsen Law has represented hundreds of investors over 40 years but after John Tollefsen experienced his personal financial loss in 1997, it has represented fraud victims with a passion.
What is the process? You will probably have to file a law suit MORE
Potential new client? Email us. No confidential information!
How Do I Adjust to My Loss?
It will be hard and painful. First you must understand the money is gone and you will be lucky to get back pennies on the dollar. Only in rare cases is there more hope. Those rare cases include a rogue stockbroker or insurance agent at a solvent firm. The firm can be forced to cover the losses. The second step is to move fast to claim what you can. If you can identify any number of potential defendants, plan on settling quickly for what your can get. Remember a judgment from a court is merely a piece of paper allowing you to spend more money on lawyers and investigators.
Most calls we receive are from victims who have no money left for legal fees. Unfortunately we turn down most requests to pursue the perpetrator on a contingency basis because it is not cost effective. Most callers do not understand the economics of contingent payment. To take a contingency fee case, the law firm is agreeing to forego an hourly fee case. Therefore the contingency fee case must offer the possibility of compensation in excess of the normal hourly rate, unless there are other compelling circumstances. Cases typically take one to four years to resolve. The cost to the law firm taking the case is often over $100,000. Before investing a significant sum in a contingency fee case, the law firm needs to be assured the defendants have the unquestioned ability to pay any judgment. Most of the time, the perpetrators of financial fraud schemes either do not have assets or have hidden them. Unless there is another “deep pocket” with potential liability, there is no real remedy for the wrong. Tollefsen Law accepts a very limited number of contingency fee cases. For various reasons, we turn down over 90% of contingency fee requests.
Contingency fees are negotiable but are usually approximately 33.33% if the client pays the costs in advance. Contingency fees require large amounts of damages (in excess of $200,000) and solvent defendants. Some cases start as hourly but become hybrid (part-contingency or fixed fee) after the facts of the case are more certain through the discovery process.
Generally we consider all the following factors when deciding whether to take a contingency fee case. If the answer is “yes” to any of the following questions, TL will probably not take your case on a contingency fee basis unless there is a public interest or unusually compelling factor.
- Is there a risk that the defendant(s) will not pay a judgment?
- Are the damages likely to be less than $200,000?
- Has the statute of limitations expired?
- Is it a type of case that TL does not normally handle?