Securities fraud, also known as stock fraud and investment fraud, is a deceptive practice in the stock or commodities markets that induces investors to make purchase or sale decisions on the basis of false information, frequently resulting in losses, in violation of securities laws.
Investors are protected against fraudulent securities activities by several different civil laws.
First, the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (15 U.S.C. § 78a et seq.) and Rule 10b-5 protect investors against deceptive and manipulative acts in the purchase or sale of securities. This sweeping legislation is the cornerstone of federal securities laws. Rule 10b-5 makes it unlawful to employ a device or scheme to defraud, to make any untrue statement of material fact or omit to state a material fact not misleading, or to engage in any practice that would operate as a fraud.
Second, the vast majority of states have passed “blue sky” laws that regulate the securities industry in each state and protect investors. Even if a state has not enacted specific securities laws, an investor can still pursue a claim under theories of common law fraud.
Third, investors can pursue claims against a broker or a brokerage firm under the rules of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), including its anti-fraud provisions. The FINRA rules have several provisions pertaining to fraud including IM-2310-2 (covering churning, false accounts, unauthorized trading, and misuse of customer funds) and Rule 2210 (covering communications with the public).