Investing is inherently risky business. There are unforeseen market forces to contend with and shifting government regulations to consider. And then there are the crooks. The mission of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is to protect investors from fraudsters, pyramid schemers, and other white-collar criminals that try to rig the system. When the SEC takes down a bad egg like Bernie Madoff, it assigns a "trustee" to distribute the felon's ill-gotten assets to the clients he robbed.
The SEC maintains a long list of bad banks and crooked brokers who have been shut down in recent years. If you were the victim of fraud in one of these cases, contact the trustee assigned to the case. Another place to look is the Securities Class Action Clearinghouse, an updated database of private class-action suits filed by investors. If you qualify as a member of the "class," you could share in the compensation.