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Press Release

Chicago Futures Trader Charged with Causing $13 Million in Losses from Fraudulent Trading Scheme

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Illinois

CHICAGO — A federal grand jury in Chicago has indicted a futures trader for allegedly causing $13 million in losses in a fraud scheme that led to the collapse of his trading firm.

THOMAS LINDSTROM used deep out-of-the-money options on ten-year Treasury Note futures to make it fraudulently appear that his trading at Chicago-based Rock Capital Markets LLC was profitable, thereby obtaining greater financial compensation for himself, according to the indictment.  His fraud scheme caused a loss of at least $13 million and led to the collapse of Rock Capital, the indictment states.  Over a six-month period in 2014 and 2015, Lindstrom obtained compensation of $285,000, the indictment states. 

The eight-count indictment was returned yesterday in U.S. District Court in Chicago.  It charges Lindstrom, 48, of Winnetka, with four counts of commodities fraud and four counts of wire fraud.  U.S. District Judge Harry D. Leinenweber scheduled arraignment for Oct. 4, 2016, at 9:45 a.m.

The indictment was announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and Michael J. Anderson, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  The Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which today filed a civil enforcement lawsuit against Lindstrom, assisted in the investigation.  The CFTC complaint seeks injunctive and other equitable relief, as well as civil monetary penalties under the Commodity Exchange Act.

A tick is the minimum price increment at which an option on a futures contract could trade.  Prior to 2016, the Chicago Board of Trade set the minimum settlement value of all options on futures contracts at one tick, even if the actual value of the option was considerably less.  For options on ten-year Treasury Note futures contracts, one tick was approximately $15.63. 

According to the charges, Lindstrom acquired hundreds of thousands of deep out-of-the-money options on ten-year Treasury Note futures, and on certain occasions he used spread transactions to pay effectively less than one tick apiece.  Lindstrom made the trades knowing that these options would likely expire worthless – resulting in losses – but would temporarily appear to have substantial value in his trading account because the minimum settlement value was one tick, according to the indictment.

Lindstrom concealed the scheme by telling Rock Capital’s owner that the options were profitable, when in reality Lindstrom’s trading was causing substantial losses, the indictment states.

The public is reminded that an indictment is not evidence of guilt.  The defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.  Each count of commodities fraud is punishable by up to 25 years in prison, while the wire fraud counts each carry a maximum sentence of 20 years.  If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.

The case is being prosecuted by the Securities and Commodities Fraud Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago.  The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sunil Harjani and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Lindsey Evans.

Updated September 29, 2016

Financial Fraud