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shutterstock_1832893-226x300According to BrokerCheck records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker Anthony Tricario (Tricario), formerly associated with Aegis Capital Corp. (Aegis), has been subject to at least three customer complaints and three regulatory complaints during his career.  Several of those complaints against Tricario concern allegations of high frequency trading activity also referred to as churning or excessive trading among other securities laws violations.

In January 2021, FINRA suspended Tricario, finding that he consented to findings that he executed trades in customers’ accounts that were excessive and quantitatively unsuitable given the customers’ investment profiles. Tricarico’s trading in the accounts of three of his firms’ customers generated high cost-to-equity ratios and turnover rates as well as significant losses and commissions. Continue Reading

shutterstock_71240-300x183According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) financial advisor Kirk Badii (Badii) has at least eight disclosable events.  These events include six customer complaints alleging that Badii engaged in some form of investment related misconduct in the handling of the client’s accounts.  In addition, Badii has been terminated for cause by two firms.  Badii is currently employed by Independent Financial Group, LLC (Independent Financial).  Badii’s customer complaints alleges that Kemp recommended unsuitable investments in different investment products including alternative investments among other allegations and complaints.

In December 2021 a customer complained that Badii violated the securities laws by alleging that Badii made unsuitable investment recommendations to an elderly homemaker, mismanaged her accounts by recommending alternative investments that were unsuitable. The Claimant states that credit lines were established to qualify the Claimant for those alternative investment purchases as well as using those credit lines to make distributions to Claimant’s family which family believed to be from income generated from investments.  Additional accounts were alleged to be established that contained concentrated unsuitable investments and that trading was made in these accounts on a discretionary basis without being approved for discretionary trading specific to reverse convertible securities. The investor alleged damages of $3 million and the claim is currently pending.

In August 2018 UBS terminated Badii alleging that he was discharged after firm review found that FA: (i) violated firm’s social media policy and blocked management’s ability to monitor his social media and (ii) violated firm’s KYC/AML policy in connection with the onboarding of certain clients and prospects.

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shutterstock_173509961-300x200Advisor Brian Roth (Roth), currently employed by brokerage firm Newbridge Securities Corporation (Newbridge Securities) has been subject to at least nine disclosures including four customer complaints, one regulatory action, and four judgement or liens.  According to a BrokerCheck report some of the customer complaints concern alternative investments such as direct participation products (DPPs) like business development companies (BDCs), non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs), oil & gas programs, annuities, and private placements.  The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP have represented hundreds of investors who suffered losses caused by these types of high risk, low reward products and have recovered in excess of $50 million in investor losses.

In June 2022 a customer complained that Roth violated the securities laws by alleging that Roth made recommendations that violated rules such as suitability, negligence, fraud, failure to supervise, violation FINRA rule 2010, and breach of contract. The claim is currently pending and the investor seeks $1,500,000 in damages.

In April 2020 a customer complained that Roth violated the securities laws by alleging that Roth made recommendations that violated rules such as breach of fiduciary duty, negligence, failure to supervise, violation FINRA rules, and breach of contract. The claim is currently settled for $100,000.

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shutterstock_186471755-300x200Advisor Jerry Tuma (Tuma), currently employed by brokerage firm Independent Financial Group, LLC (Independent Financial) has been subject to at least five disclosures and customer complaints.  According to a BrokerCheck report the customer complaints concern investment advisory activity and one complaint involves alternative investments such as direct participation products (DPPs) like business development companies (BDCs), non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs), oil & gas programs, annuities, and private placements.  The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP have represented hundreds of investors who suffered losses caused by these types of high risk, low reward products and have recovered in excess of $50 million in investor losses.

In January 2022 a customer complained that Tuma violated the securities laws by alleging that Tuma made investment recommendations that were not suitable and was not in line with stated objectives. The claim is currently pending and the investor seeks $200,000 in damages.

In January 2022 a customer complained that Tuma violated the securities laws by alleging that the client engaged CFS in an advisory relationship beginning in 12/2017. The client also alleged her account was not managed in accordance with her best interests, that certain management and product fees were excessive, and in inappropriate products given her risk profile.  The claim is currently settled for $14,906 in damages.

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shutterstock_128655458-300x200Advisor Jonathan Ellefson (Ellefson), currently employed by brokerage firm Intervest International Equities Corporation (Intervest) has been subject to at least four disclosures and customer complaints.  According to a BrokerCheck report the customer complaints concern alternative investments such as direct participation products (DPPs) like business development companies (BDCs), non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs), oil & gas programs, annuities, and private placements.  In Ellefson’s case at least one of the complaints occurred from the sale of GWG Holdings L-Bonds.  GWG went into bankruptcy.  The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP represented nearly 100 investors who suffered losses in GWG.

GWG’s business focused on the acquisition of life insurance policies in the secondary market.  GWG was offered to investors even though the company had no significant operating history and no profits.  Until 2018, GWG’s sole business was to borrow money to buy life insurance policies in the secondary market at prices that are less than the face value of the insurance benefits payable upon the death of the insureds.  GWG would then hold the policies until maturity and collect the face value upon the insured’s death.

The contours of the GWG bonds are as follows:

shutterstock_179465345-300x200Advisor Chad Barancyk (Barancyk), formerly employed by brokerage firms First Allied Securities, Inc. (First Allied) and Great Point Capital, LLC (Great Point) has been subject to at least 14 disclosures including 11 customer complaints, two regulatory actions, and an employment termination for cause.  According to a BrokerCheck report the customer complaints concern alternative investments such as direct participation products (DPPs) like business development companies (BDCs), non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs), oil & gas programs, annuities, and private placements.  The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP have represented hundreds of investors who suffered losses caused by these types of high risk, low reward products and have recovered in excess of $50 million in investor losses.  Our firm also represented investors of Barancyk to try to recover their losses.

In their complaint, the clients allege that they trusted Barancyk, doing business as Naples Private Wealth (NPW) to invest funds for their retirement in a prudent and suitable manner.  Instead, it was alleged that Barancyk misled Claimants and other investors by recommending unsuitable investment strategies in various illiquid alternative investments from approximately 2009 onward.  In total, the clients allege they invested approximately $2 million with Barancyk in alternative investments resulting in over $500,000 in losses not including well-managed damages.

It was also alleged that Barancyk failed, as well as First Allied, to disclose multiple criminal related incidents on Mr. Barancyk’s Form U4.  It was alleged that on October 2018 Barancyk was arrested and charged with battery.   This arrest does not appear on Barancyk’s Form U4.  On January 14, 2021 it was alleged that Barancyk was charged with a DUI where his blood alcohol level was .15 or higher or with a person under the age of 18 in the vehicle as well as knowingly driving while his license was suspended.  It was alleged that First Allied terminated Barancyk one day later on January 15, 2021 but did not file a Form U5 noting the DUI.

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shutterstock_183752831-300x225According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) financial advisor Anthony Gallea (Gallea) has at least four disclosable event.  The four events are customer complaints alleging that Gallea engaged in some form of investment related misconduct in the handling of the client’s accounts.  Gallea is currently employed by Morgan Stanley.  Gallea’s customer complaints alleges that Gallea recommended unsuitable investments in a complex options trading strategy among other allegations and complaints.

In May 2022 a customer complained that Gallea violated the securities laws by alleging that Gallea unsuitability with respect to option trading strategy implemented in the account from 2018 through 2022.  The claim is currently pending.

In April 2022 a customer complained that Gallea violated the securities laws by alleging that Gallea unsuitability with respect to option trading strategy implemented in the account from 2019 through 2021.  The claim is currently pending.

An option is a contract that allows an investor to buy or sell an underlying security at a predetermined price over a certain period of time.  Buying an option that allows you to buy shares at a later time is called a “call option,” and buying an option that allows you to sell shares at a later time is called a “put option.”  Options are considered derivative securities because their price is derived from the value of the securities or other underlying instruments.  The value change in options as they approach expiration is what is called time decay – meaning their value decays over time as expiration nears.  Accordingly, an options trading strategy involving many options trades needs to be managed closely.  Due to the risks of trading options FINRA has special rules and requirements related to their trading and to qualify investors for options trading.

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shutterstock_27786601-300x200According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) financial advisor Eduardo Da Cruz (Da Cruz) has at least one disclosable event.  This event is a customer complaint alleging that Da Cruz engaged in some form of investment related misconduct in the handling of the client’s accounts.  Da Cruz is currently employed by EFG Capital International (EFG).  Da Cruz’s customer complaints alleges that Da Cruz recommended unsuitable investments in a complex options trading strategy among other allegations and complaints.

In November 2021 a customer complained that Da Cruz violated the securities laws by alleging that Da Cruz during the course of 2019 and 2020, EFG, failed to provide the expected and agreed upon level of service specifically with regards to complex option trading causing losses. The investor alleged damages of $4.1 million and the claim is currently pending.

An option is a contract that allows an investor to buy or sell an underlying security at a predetermined price over a certain period of time.  Buying an option that allows you to buy shares at a later time is called a “call option,” and buying an option that allows you to sell shares at a later time is called a “put option.”  Options are considered derivative securities because their price is derived from the value of the securities or other underlying instruments.  The value change in options as they approach expiration is what is called time decay – meaning their value decays over time as expiration nears.  Accordingly, an options trading strategy involving many options trades needs to be managed closely.  Due to the risks of trading options FINRA has special rules and requirements related to their trading and to qualify investors for options trading.

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shutterstock_29356093-300x214According to BrokerCheck records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker James Pecoraro (Pecoraro), associated with Spartan Capital Securities, LLC (Spartan Capital) has been subject to at least 11 customer complaint, six regulatory actions, and one judgement or liens during his career.  Some of the complaints against Pecoraro concern allegations of high frequency trading activity also referred to as churning or excessive trading among other securities laws violations.

In August 2022, FINRA found Pecoraro consented to sanctions and findings that he excessively traded in customers’ accounts. FINRA found that Pecoraro recommended a pattern of high-cost and high-velocity trading in the customers’ accounts. FINRA alleged that Pecoraro’s customers routinely followed his recommendations and exercised de facto control over their accounts. The findings state that Pecoraro effected a total of 325 trades resulting in annual turnover rates ranging from 13.47 to 57.97 and annualized cost-to-equity ratios ranging from 57.58 percent to 175.19 percent. FINRA found that Pecoraro’s trading was excessive and unsuitable for the customers’ investment profiles and the customers suffered losses of $166,018, total trading costs of $184,053, and commissions of $165,437.

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shutterstock_85873471-300x200Advisor Heath Goldstein (Goldstein), currently employed by brokerage firm Western International Securities, Inc. (Western International) has been subject to at least 9 disclosures and customer complaints.  According to a BrokerCheck report the customer complaints concern alternative investments such as direct participation products (DPPs) like business development companies (BDCs), non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs), oil & gas programs, annuities, and private placements.  In Goldstein’s case at least three of the complaints occurred from the sale of GWG Holdings L-Bonds.  GWG went into bankruptcy.  The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP represented nearly 100 investors who suffered losses in GWG.

GWG’s business focused on the acquisition of life insurance policies in the secondary market.  GWG was offered to investors even though the company had no significant operating history and no profits.  Until 2018, GWG’s sole business was to borrow money to buy life insurance policies in the secondary market at prices that are less than the face value of the insurance benefits payable upon the death of the insureds.  GWG would then hold the policies until maturity and collect the face value upon the insured’s death.

The contours of the GWG bonds are as follows:

  • Brokers Earned up to 8% commissions. From GWG’s prospectus “The total amount of the selling commissions…in the course of offering and selling L Bonds will not exceed 8.00% of the aggregate gross offering proceeds….”  GWG Prospectus (Sept. 5, 2019).
  • GWG bonds are inadequately secured. While GWG claims that the L Bonds are secured by insurance portfolio, in the prospectus, the life insurance policies held by DLP IV and Life Trust “do not serve as direct collateral for the L Bonds” and have been “pledged as direct collateral securing” other debt obligations senior to L Bond investors.
  • GWG bonds are “auto-renewable.” Like a magazine subscription, unless an L bond investor gives notice ahead of the maturity date that they wish to redeem their investment, the bond is renewed automatically and replaced with a new one with the same terms and interest rate then being offered by GWG.  This feature forces investors to be vigilant as expiration approaches.
  • GWG bonds are unlisted. This means the bonds are not tradable on any stock exchange.  Because there is no market for the L Bonds there is no way for an investor to regularly gauge the value of an L Bonds or the credit worthiness of GWG based on market sentiment.
  • GWG bonds are not rated. L Bonds were not credit rated by any credit rating agency nor were they insured.

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