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shutterstock_172399811-297x300The law offices of Gana Weinstein LLP are currently investigating claims that advisor George Schmidt (Schmidt) has converted customer funds among other allegations.  According to BrokerCheck records, Schmidt is formerly registered with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) member firm Lincoln Financial Advisors Corporation (Lincoln Financial) out of the firm’s Melville, New York office location.  In addition, Schmidt disclosed four customer complaint, one employment terminations for cause, and one regulatory action.  If you have been a victim of Schmidt’s alleged misconduct our firm may be able to assist you in recovering funds.

According to FINRA, Schmidt refused provide documents and information to FINRA in connection with an investigation into allegations made by his firm upon his termation.

In November 2019 Lincoln Financial terminated Schmidt stating that he was discharged while under allegations of misappropriation related to undisclosed outside business activity serving as trustee for a non-family member.

Schmidt’s disclosed outside business activities include Schmidt Associates.

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shutterstock_189302963-300x194The law offices of Gana Weinstein LLP are currently investigating claims that advisor Gerald Dewes (Dewes), working out of East Amherst, New York, has been barred by a financial regulator concerning allegations that he engaged in the sales of private securities among other allegations.  Dewes was barred by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) concerning his private securities sales conduct.  According to BrokerCheck records, Dewes was formerly registered with FINRA member firm Cadaret, Grant & Co., Inc. (Cadaret Grant).  If you have been a victim of Dewes’ alleged misconduct our firm may be able to assist you in recovering funds.

In March 2020 FINRA found that Dewes consented to the sanctions and a bar from them industry as well as to the entry of findings that he refused to appear for testimony before FINRA during the course of an investigation into his potential participation in undisclosed private securities transactions and outside business activities.  In addition, Cadaret Grant terminated Dewes alleging that he sold away from the firm by soliciting client investments into an undisclosed outside business activity called Elite Roasters, Inc. (Elite Roasters) for which he was an officer and director.

According to Dewes’ publicly disclosed records his outside business activities include Sunbridge Management.

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shutterstock_69882820-300x228The law offices of Gana Weinstein LLP continue to investigate the Woodbridge Group of Companies and the Woodbridge Mortgage Funds (Woodbridge).  The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has alleged that the Woodbridge operated a billion-dollar Ponzi scheme ensnaring about 8,400 investors. Woodbridge solicited hundreds of disreputable insurance agents and investment brokers to sell its false notes that the firm claimed to be backed by mortgages.  In plain sight to regulators, Woodbridge engaged in a nationwide investment fraud by offering the sale of unregistered securities.

According to BrokerCheck records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Roger Owens (Owens) appears to be an agent for Woodbridge fraudulent note sales.  Owens was formerly associated with Cetera Advisors LLC (Cetera) out of the firm’s Elkton, Maryland office location.  Owens has four complaints related to his Woodbridge note sales.

In addition, in August 2019 FINRA found that Owens consented to sanctions and findings that he engaged in private securities transactions without providing notice to Cetera. FINRA determined that Owens solicited investors to purchase promissory notes relating to a purported real-estate investment fund [Woodbridge]. Owens was found to have sold at least $1,170,000 in promissory notes to investors while receiving $59,471 in commissions in connection with these transactions. FINRA also found that Owens falsely attested in compliance questionnaires that he had not engaged in any private securities transactions without receiving prior written approval from his firm.

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shutterstock_85873471-300x200Advisor Peter Maller (Maller), currently employed by Lincoln Financial Advisors Corporation (Lincoln Financial) has been subject to at least three customer complaints during the course of his career.  According to a BrokerCheck report the customer complaints concern alternative investments such as direct participation products (DPPs) like non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs) and annuities.  The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP have represented hundreds of investors who suffered losses caused by these types of high risk, low reward products.

In August 2019 a customer complained that Maller violated the securities laws by alleging that Maller engaged in sales practice violations related to recommending a client to invest her life savings in an unsuitable and deceptive manner, specifically concentrating her assets in annuities and illiquid, non-publicly traded investments. The claim is currently pending.

In April 2019 a customer complained that Maller violated the securities laws by alleging that Maller engaged in sales practice violations related to recommending an investment strategy in 2013 that failed to account for tax liabilities and recommended unsuitable investments. The claim is currently pending and seeks $350,394 in damages.

DDPs include products such as non-traded REITs, oil and gas offerings, equipment leasing products, and other alternative investments.  These alternative investments virtually never profit investors and are almost always unsuitable for investors because of their high fee and cost structure.  Brokers selling these products are paid additional commission in order to hype these inferior quality investments providing a perverse incentives to create an artificial market for the investments.

Several studies have confirmed that Non-traded REITs underperform publicly traded REITs with some showing that Non-Traded REITs cannot even beat safe benchmarks, like U.S. treasury bonds.  Brokers selling these products must disclose to the investor that non-traded REITs provide lower investment returns than treasuries while being high risk and illiquid – but almost never do.  Because investors are not compensated with additional return in exchange for higher risk and illiquidity, these kinds of alternative investment products are rarely, if ever, appropriate for investors.  Continue Reading

shutterstock_186471755-300x200The law offices of Gana Weinstein LLP are currently investigating claims that advisor John Cahill (Cahill) has converted customer funds among other allegations.  According to BrokerCheck records, Cahill is formerly registered with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) member firm Janney Montgomery Scott LLC (Janney).  In addition, Cahill disclosed one customer complaint, two employment terminations for cause, and one regulatory action.  If you have been a victim of Cahill’s alleged misconduct our firm may be able to assist you in recovering funds.

According to FINRA, Cahill consented to sanctions and to findings that he refused provide documents and information and to appear for testimony requested by FINRA in connection with an investigation into allegations that he commingled and/or converted funds belonging to, and served as power-of-attorney for, an elderly individual who was his customer while he was associated with his former member firm.

In March 2019 Janney terminated Cahill stating that he was discharged while under internal review regarding receipt of funds while acting as POA for a client.

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shutterstock_20354401-300x200Advisor Joseph Roop (Roop), formerly employed by Kalos Capital, Inc. (Kalos) has been subject to at least seven customer complaints and one bankruptcy during the course of his career.  According to a BrokerCheck report some of the customer complaints concern alternative investments such as direct participation products (DPPs) like non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs), oil & gas programs, and annuities.  The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP have represented hundreds of investors who suffered losses caused by these types of high risk, low reward products.

In addition, brokers at Kalos have been accused of selling millions in fraudulent GPB Capital Holdings (GPB Capital) related investments.  GPB Capital is facing multiple accusations of being a Ponzi scheme, an ongoing U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and FBI investigations, and even GPB’s chief compliance officier being indicted for illegally obtaining information on the SEC’s investigation.  Now even Volkswagen and Toyota are threatening to pull the plug on GPB Capital auto dealerships.  While advisors have been telling investors to do absolutely nothing and just hang in there – this is nothing more than just additional poor advice.  In November 2019 GPB Capital’s admitted that no financial audit would occur anytime in the near future.  The firm has admitted that it has never been profitable and has merely returned investor capital in the past in order to fake a successful business model.  In sum, investors now know there is nothing to hang onto.  By the day, advisor recommendations to do nothing appear to be completely self-serving, out of the loop, and not in the interest of the investor.

In July 2019 a customer complained that Roop violated the securities laws by alleging that Roop engaged in sales practice violations related to unsuitable investments in alternative securities (REITS, etc.) during the time period from 2012 through 2017. The claim alleges $450,000 in damages and is currently pending.

In October 2018 a customer complained that Roop violated the securities laws by alleging that Roop engaged in sales practice violations related to unsuitable investments and sale of securities when not properly registered in the State of Alabama from January 2011 through July 2014.  The claim alleges $100,000 in damages and was settled for $90,000.

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shutterstock_120556300-300x300The law offices of Gana Weinstein LLP continue to investigate broker sales of the Walton Land Fund companies (Walton Land).  Walton Land has been solicited many brokers across the country as investments in real estate.  Walton Land is a highly speculative private placement that invests on vacant undeveloped properties that do not generate income.  The hope is that one day in the far future Walton Land can sell the properties for a profit to someone else to develop.  The problem is that Walton Land needs to pay carrying costs on the properties while they do not generate income.  In addition, newsources have exposed that Walton Land makes a profit on these properties by selling them to the funds at a huge mark up

As a recent Bloomberg article exposed a “markup of five times Walton’s own price wasn’t unusual across hundreds of properties. In one 2008 investment vehicle, Walton bought 304 acres northeast of Atlanta at a price of $13,600 an acre in U.S. dollars, and syndicated it to investors at about $68,000 an acre.”  In other words, Walton is sure to profit on its own deals by selling properties it bought for way cheaper to ignorant retail investors for many times the properties’ actual value.  In addition, broker’s are paid huge commissions to never reveal these facts to their clients and get their “cut” of the land fraud.  “Walton also was paying sales commissions as high as 13.25% in some cases, even though 6% is more typical for speculative investments, securities experts say.”

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shutterstock_103681238-300x300According to BrokerCheck records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker Carl Antaki (Antaki), currently associated with Network 1 Financial Securities Inc. (Network 1 Financial), has been subject to at least five customer complaints and one employment termination for cause during his career.  Some of the investor complaints against Antaki concern allegations of high frequency trading activity also referred to as churning or excessive trading.

In March 2019 a customer complained that Antaki violated the securities laws by alleging that Antaki engaged in sales practice violations related to unsuitable investments. The claim is currently pending and seeks $100,000 in damages.

In October 2017 a customer complained that Antaki violated the securities laws by alleging that Antaki engaged in sales practice violations related to fraud, misrepresentations, churning and breach of fiduciary duty.  The claim settled for $8,750.

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shutterstock_155271245-300x300Advisor John Hoidas (Hoidas), formerly employed by Uhlmann Price Securities, LLC (Uhlmann Price) has been subject to at least four customer complaints and one judgment or lien during the course of his career.  According to a BrokerCheck report some of the customer complaints concern fraudulent GPB Capital Holdings (GPB Capital) related investments.

GPB Capital is facing multiple accusations of being a Ponzi scheme, an ongoing U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and FBI investigations, and even GPB’s chief compliance officer being indicted for illegally obtaining information on the SEC’s investigation.  Now even Volkswagen and Toyota are threatening to pull the plug on GPB Capital auto dealerships.  While advisors have been telling investors to do absolutely nothing and just hang in there – this is nothing more than just additional poor advice.  In November 2019 GPB Capital’s admitted that no financial audit would occur anytime in the near future.  The firm has admitted that it has never been profitable and has merely returned investor capital in the past in order to fake a successful business model.  In sum, investors now know there is nothing to hang onto.  By the day, advisor recommendations to do nothing appear to be completely self-serving, out of the loop, and not in the interest of the investor.

In November 2019 a customer complained that Hoidas violated the securities laws by alleging that Hoidas engaged in sales practice violations related to a claim with FINRA regarding GPB Holdings II investment which client wants to rescind. The claim was settled for $26,470.

In October 2019 a customer complained that Hoidas violated the securities laws by alleging that Hoidas engaged in sales practice violations related to investment from September 2013 through July 2019 by misrepresenting the investments. The claim was settled for $158,823.

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shutterstock_161005310-300x168The law offices of Gana Weinstein LLP are currently investigating claims that advisor Benjamin Lowder (Lowder) has multiple client complaints concerning allegations that he engaged in the sales of private securities among other allegations.  Lowder was also barred by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) concerning his private securities sales conduct.  According to BrokerCheck records, Lowder was formerly registered with FINRA member firm MSI Financial Services, Inc. (MSI Financial).  If you have been a victim of Lowder’s alleged misconduct our firm may be able to assist you in recovering funds.

In October 2019 FINRA found that Lowder consented to the sanctions and a bar from them industry as well as to the entry of findings that he refused to appear for testimony before FINRA during the course of an investigation that began after investor civil lawsuits submitted by his former member firm. FINRA found that the civil lawsuits alleged unfair and deceptive trade practices and state securities fraud regarding investments in fictitious entities.

According to Lowder’s publicly disclosed records the he has no disclosed outside business activities.

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