The investment fraud attorneys with Gana LLP are investigating customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against Joseph Sterling (Sterling) currently associated with Geneos Wealth Management, Inc. (Geneos Wealth). According to brokercheck records Sterling has been subject to three customer complaints. Two of the most recent complaints involve his conduct concerning direct participation products (DPPs) such as non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs) and potentially other alternative investments.
In August 2017 a customer filed a complaint alleging that Sterling made unsuitable recommendations of real estate securities in 2012 and 2013 and other causes of action. The customer alleges $290,000 in damages and the claim is currently pending. Another customer filed a complaint in July 2017 alleging that in 2013 and 2014, Sterling made unsuitable recommendations of real estate securities and other direct investments and other causes of action. The claim alleged $500,000 in damages and is currently pending.
Our firm has represented many clients in illiquid alternative investments products. All of these investments come with high costs and have historically underperformed even safe benchmarks, like U.S. treasury bonds. For example, products like oil and gas partnerships, REITs, and other alternative investments are only appropriate for a narrow band of investors under certain conditions due to the high costs, illiquidity, and huge redemption charges of the products, if they can be redeemed at all. However, due to the high commissions brokers earn on these products they sell them to investors who cannot profit from them and have created a large market for a failed product. Further, investor often fail to understand that they have lost money in these illiquid investments until many years after investing. In sum, for all of their costs and risks, investors in these programs are in no way additionally compensated for the loss of liquidity, risks, or cost.