Cold Spring Advisory and Louis Ottimo Confronted

Posted By Brie Austin In Category: Blog , Interviews

I received a call from Louis Ottimo about a month ago, partly in reference to the article I wrote in September about him and his affiliation with Cold Spring Advisory, and also about me reaching out to a client.

cold spring advisory ripoffAs a follow up to that article, entitled Cold Srping Advisory and Louis Ottimo Uncovered, I had been researching cases that clients of Cold Spring Advisory had pursued against 3rd party security firms for stock loss recovery, and lost those cases. I was interested to see what their feedback and experience about working with Cold Spring Advisory might be.

Michael was one such client.

What struck me odd though was that it wasn’t Michael that initially responded to my email, nor was it Cold Spring Advisory, the firm that represented him in the case. It was Louis Ottimo.

Mr. Ottimo, who at every turn claims to be just a ‘consultant’ to the Company, seemed to be very much in the know about all the Company’s affairs. We’ll get to that later, as it prompted me to do further research on the matter.

The Phone Call

What Mr. Ottimo wanted to know most was:

From where did you get Michael’s email? And who hired you to write to original article?

I responded quite candidly: I wasn’t ‘hired’ by anyone to write an article about Cold Spring Advisory and Louis Ottimo, nor do I recall where I got Michael’s email without checking my notes. But, I also assured him that as an independent reporter  I wouldn’t be inclined to reveal my source to him, since by his own admission he wasn’t an employee of Cold Spring Advisory.

The conversation then got a bit more aggressive, with Louis Ottimo informing me that:

The Cold Spring Advisory attorney will be reaching out to you and will demand to know where you got Michael’s email. 

He hasn’t. But I explained at the time that if the attorney reached out to me, and if I was  required of me under the law to disclose such information, that I would provide it. To the lawyer, not him.

Louis Ottomo then offered a thinly-veiled threat:

If you pursue this you ‘might’ needlessly be enjoined into a defamation lawsuit that Cold Spring Advisory was pursuing against another individual.

While I appreciated his concern for my well being, I assured him that I would deal with that according, if and when it arises.

I explained that as an independent reporter I merely go where the research takes me, and I was certainly amenable to any discussions he would like to have on the matter. By the way, he hadn’t refuted any of the facts listed in that first article.

Praise of Cold Spring Advisory stock loss recovery

Louis Ottimo was then prompted to rattle off numbers of the large amount of funds Cold Spring Advisory recovered on behalf of their clients; insisting that they were the largest stock loss recovery firm in the U.S. and adhered to highest principles in the handling of their cases.

The Research
From my own research, I couldn’t verify that information. In fact all I could find of such a claim was generated by Cold Spring Advisory themselves; mostly in the form of press releases and/or articles written on user-generated websites.

I informed him of such, that there was no such information generated by any bona fide 3rd party news sources, which to me seemed suspect:

If they were a champion of clients and had such a high rate of success, why had no news organization picked up on the story?

He didn’t answer.

More Discussions about Louis Ottimo and his Involvement with Cold Spring Advisory

We segued into his involvement in the business operations of Cold Spring Advisory, to which he again insisted he was only a consultant. So I was curious, and I asked him:

If that were true and you [Louis Ottimo] were not deeply involved in the affairs of Cold Spring Advisory, how is it that you were the first — and only –point of contact about an email I wrote directly to a client of Cold Spring Advisory?

He had no answer.

Louis Ottimo is a De Facto Employee of Cold Spring Advisory Business Operations

My research into the matter revealed that he had far more access to the day to day business affairs of Cold Spring Advisory than he claimed. In fact:

  • Louis Ottimo was the sole source of their client lead list;
  • he engaged with and choose the lawyers that would represent said clients;
  • he generated the checks to pay such lawyers;
  • he alone interviewed all clients and their stock portfolios; and;
  • he alone determined the up front fees to charge said clients.

By this account, whether he was paid as an employee or a consultant, nonetheless made him essentially a de facto employee of the company.

He again wanted to know the sources of my research: I again declined to reveal them.

Even if someone is hired under a consulting contract, if they have control over the company and make critical decisions into the operation of that company, the U.S government may very well deem that person to be an employee of the company. Furthermore, if you classify an employee as an independent contractor and you have no reasonable basis for doing so, you may be held liable for employment taxes for that worker (the relief provisions, discussed below, will not apply). See Internal Revenue Code section 3509 for more information.

Louis then suggested — to assuage my concerns — that I read the company website, which again I reiterated was not a bona fide resource. He asked why I was attacking them. My response was simply that I am reporting on the facts I discover, but that I have no allegiance to one side of the story than the other. I’d be happy to report anything in the positive he can offer — that I can verify.

So he suggested that I reach out to the company’s clients and the Company itself for an interview.

I did: thus far, as of this writing none have responded.

I also extended an offer to him for us to have a more detailed follow up interview, and if he picked a date and time I would make myself available.

To date I haven’t heard back from him.

Reasonable Conclusions

In all fairness to Cold SPring Advisory, perhaps they’re too busy to respond. Perhaps the many clients I have found that lost their cases and reached out to simply didn’t want to relive those cases. By the way, Michael did eventually respond to my email inquiry, curiously a day after my chat with louis Ottimo. He claimed that he had been traveling and just got to it. In his email he praised the company as being forthright and honest and that he had no complaints even though the cse was lost, and was informed up front that he might lose his up front fee and the case itself. It was a glowing letter of support for Cold Spring Advisory.

Yet the lack of communication by the Cold Spring Advisory, with Louis Ottimo the only point of contact to date, and his timely reaction to my initial letter to Michael, only reinforced my perception that it is Louis Ottimo that is the driving force behind Cold Spring Advisory, and that he alone directs the overall activities of the Company. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, well … you know.

Cold Spring Advisory and Louis Ottimo Confronted

My concerns with Louis Otimo and his seemingly close control of Cold Spring Advisory is because the history of Louis Ottimo — and members of his family — in the securities industry is littered with lawsuits and industry and government sanctions; he and Anthony Ottimo have both been barred from dealing with any FINRA members, for, in part failing to provide timely and accurate filings; and filing misleading statements. And the lawsuits are many, spanning many years, suggesting a consistency of behavior.

Anthony Ottimo was barred from FINRA in high profile fashion; he was referred to as a ‘shadow CEO’ in the article entitled Finra expels firm for ‘brazen’ defiance of SEC, where they also noted then president Thomas Giugliano (EKN Financial Services Inc.) was suspended for a year and fined $150,000 for ‘numerous compliance violations‘.

There have also been several consumer complaints in Rip Off Report, Scamalot,  Complaints Board, and Pissed Off Consumer. Investment Recovery Blog provides warnings about scams and mentions Cold Spring Advisory.

And National Securities filed a lawsuit against Cold Spring Advisory claiming that the company stole their client list in an effort to prey upon and convert them into Cold Spring advisory clients.

WHO IS FINRA?  FINRA is the non government securities organization ‘dedicated to investor protection and market integrity through effective and efficient regulation of the securities industry’.

What To Do If You’re the Victim of Stock Loss Fraud

This article series is by no means over, and has reignited my interest in further research. The Wall Street Journal published an article in 2013 about the more than 5000 stock brokers expelled from the industry who go on to reinsert themselves in the industry by various methods so that they can continue to prey upon stock investors.  I am currently researching two more former non-affiliated Cold Spring Advisory security brokers as well.

So I can only suggest that if you have been the victim of stock loss fraud that you should do your homework. Research multiple options (companies and lawyers who specialize in stock loss recovery) to determine who should represent you.

AND IMPORTANT NOTE:

  • Be cautious of those that try to exact high up front fees
  • Be cautious of those that use highly aggressive selling tactics
  • Be cautious of those that call you out of the blue — where did they get your number?
  • Be cautious of those with tainted security industry history — check them out with FINRA

 

Those that were barred from the securities industry for improper filings, censured for misconduct, have a list of bankruptcies, and/or are defendants in multiple lawsuits should set off alarms for you. They should not be your first choice. Character matters. If they were involved in defrauding stock investors in the past, they’re not likely to have your best interest at heart in the present.

Louis Ottimo fits this profile, and his suspect connection to Cold Spring Advisory makes them equally disqualifying.

In unbiased fairness, if Cold Spring Advisory or Louis Ottimo would like to refudiate these findings, I welcome them to reach out to me and provide any additional information I may have missed in my research.

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About Brie Austin

Co-author of I'd Do It Again, he is a columnist/reporter for a variety of magazines in the areas of music, lifestyle, nightlife, travel and business. He also writes business documents and creates copy for websites.

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