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Chicago Futures Trader Charged In Connection with Fraudulent Trading Scheme

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.