SEC Accuses Dawn Bennett of Misleading Investors On Her Radio Program

shutterstock_143685652According to the BrokerCheck records kept by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker Dawn Bennett (Bennett) has been the subject of at least six customer complaints over the course of her career. Customers have filed complaints against Bennett alleging securities law violations including that the broker made unsuitable investments, breach of fiduciary duty, negligence, misrepresentations, and excessive trading among other claims. In addition to customer complaints, The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed a press release announcing fraud charges against Bennett, a Maryland-based financial services firm and founder/CEO, accusing her of grossly inflating the amount of managed assets and exaggerating the investment returns actually obtained for customers.

Bennett entered the securities industry in 1987. From 2006, until October 2009, Bennett was associated with Royal Alliance Associates, Inc. Thereafter, from October 2009, till present Bennett is associated with Western International Securities, Inc.

The SEC’s allegations relate to Bennett’s attempts to inflate the firm’s profile and prestige by overhyping assets under management and customer returns. The SEC alleged that Bennett frequently touted to customers and on her paid radio program that highly profitable investment returns generated by Bennett Group Financial Services placed the firm in the top 1 percent of firms worldwide. However, the SEC charged that Bennett failed to disclose that the returns were calculated for a model portfolio and not based on actual investor performance. The SEC further alleged that Bennett and her firm claimed to be managing more than $2 billion in assets when in reality Bennett managed no more than one-fifth of that amount.

The SEC claimed that Bennett knew that the misstatements would be factored into rankings of independent financial advisors and falsely claimed in three submissions to a media organization that they managed assets of $1.1 billion to $1.8 billion. As a result, the media organization ranked Bennett fifth in the category of “Top 100 Women Financial Advisors” and second in its listing of the “2011 Top Advisors” in Washington D.C. Bennett and her firm touted these distinctions to existing and prospective clients.

In addition, in 2010 Bennett hosted a weekly radio show in the Washington D.C. Bennett Group paid for the show called Financial Myth Busting With Dawn Bennett, and Bennett hosted it and determined its contents. The SEC found that during 18 radio programs aired in 2010 and 2011, Bennett falsely claimed that she and Bennett Group managed assets of between $1.5 billion to more than $2 billion. However, Bennett managed only approximately $407 million. Indeed, during the SEC’s investigation, the agency found that Bennett and her firm made additional false statements in an effort to substantiate their prior fraudulent claims concerning assets under management.

Investors who have suffered investment losses due to broker misconduct may be able recover their losses through securities arbitration. The attorneys at Gana LLP are experienced in representing investors concerning securities violations. Our consultations are free of charge and the firm is only compensated if you recover.