My blogging buddy security lawyer Bill Singer on his blog, Broke and Broker, An Irreverent Wall Street Blog (always a good read), posts frequently about investment scams and scoundrels. In one of his latest, Bill writes that Feds Bust Bank Guarantee Scam.

But the Feds don’t have the manpower and resources to get to all of the $40 billion a year that the FBI says investors lose to fraud. In other words, watch out, you’re on your own.

So how do you go about protecting yourself?  Educate yourself, and here’s an excellent starting point.

It’s Pat Huddleston’s recently published book pictured above, THE VIGILANT INVESTOR: A Former SEC Enforcer Reveals How To Fraud Proof-Your Investments.

Intriguing title, eh? But before I tell you about the book itself, let me tell you a little about Pat and how this book came to be written.

After leaving the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission where he was an Enforcement Branch Chief, Pat was a private attorney for ten years representing defrauded investors. As Pat tells it in the Introduction, he closed his law practice in July 2006 after meeting with a 70-year old man who lost his entire savings in a Ponzi scheme. But since the con man had no assets to go after, chances for recovery were slim.

So says Pat, that was when he launched Investor’s Watchdog, LLC, a firm providing investment protection services to investors and subsequently acting as court-appointed receivers in SEC fraud cases.

Pat’s experience and writing style has resulted in a book from which investors can learn how to better protect themselves. He uses real stories and provides checklists in his book organized in two easily readable sections:

  • PART 1: The Wide World of Fraud: First Steps and Advanced Tactics on the Path to Vigilant Investing
  • PART 2: The Securities Industry: Hunting the Wolf with the Million-Dollar Smile

It’s not just seniors that are vulnerable, of course. Retirement plans can be at risk also. In fact, Pat estimates that approximately 20% of investment fraud is perpetrated against retirement plans including small plans.

Attorney and Susan Wynn wrote about that very subject in February 2009 in her post, Madoff Victims Include Small Pension Plans. Note her comment about the efficacy of the enforcement agencies:

One of the interesting points of the Madoff story when it comes to retirement and pension plans is that none of the 4 governmental agencies which regulate and audit retirement and pension plans saw Madoff coming.

So if you’re a fiduciary of a retirement plan, in addition to Pat’s book, there are other resources available. Here’s an excellent one, the webcast, Fiduciary Lessons Learned from Scoundrels and Thieves presented in 2009 by Blaine Aikin and Rich Lynch, CEO and COO respectively of fi360.