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shutterstock_184429547-300x200The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating BrokerCheck records reports that Dean Robert Nowak (Nowak), currently employed by Newbridge Securities Corporation (Newbridge), has been subject to at least three customer complaints in his career. According to records kept by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Nowak’s customer complaint alleges that Nowak made misrepresentations with respect to securities transactions to customers.

In April 2020, a customer complained that Nowak violated the securities laws by alleging that Nowak engaged in unsuitable investment practices and made misrepresentations and omissions regarding the features and risks of a fixed annuity and a real estate trust, including restrictions on liquidity and the applicable time horizon. The claim alleges $100,000 in damages and is currently pending.

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shutterstock_70513588-300x200The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating BrokerCheck records reports that broker Douglas Gene Schmitz (Schmitz), currently employed by Classic, LLC (Classic) has been subject to at least three customer complaints during the course of his career.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Schmitz’s customer complaints alleges that Schmitz engaged in misconduct relating to the handling of their accounts, including lack of fiduciary responsibility.

In August 2020, a customer complained that Schmitz violated the securities laws by alleging that Schmitz engaged in lack of fiduciary responsibility.  The claim alleges $40,000 in damages and is currently pending.

In July 2020, a customer complained that Schmitz violated the securities laws by alleging that Schmitz did not follow direction to liquidate the customer’s account. The damage amount requested was $5,200. The claim was closed-no action.

In April 2020, a customer complained that Schmitz violated the securities laws by alleging that Schmitz engaged in a trade execution failure. The damage amount requested was $750,000. The claim settled in the amount of $275,000.

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shutterstock_186471755-300x200The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating BrokerCheck records reports that Mark Alexander Reffett (Reffett), currently employed by Arkadios Capital, has been subject to at least one customer complaint his career. According to records kept by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Reffett’s customer complaint alleges that Reffett engaged in unsuitable investment strategy and alternative investments.

In May 2020, a customer complained that Reffett violated the securities laws by alleging that Reffett engaged in unsuitable investment strategy and alternative investments beginning in 2014 and continuing to 2016. The claim alleges $1,575,881 in damages and is currently pending.

Alternative investments include a class of products including DDPs 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_145368937-300x225The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating BrokerCheck records reports that broker Michael Christopher Martino (Martino), currently employed by Four Points Capital Partners LLC (Four Points Capital Partners) has been subject to at least six customer complaints during the course of his career.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Martino’s customer complaints alleges that Martino recommended unsuitable investments in various investments among other allegations of misconduct relating to the handling of their accounts, including fraud and misrepresentation.

In June 2020, a customer complained that Martino violated the securities laws by alleging that Martino engaged in unsuitable investment advice involving unsuitable concentrations, along with unreasonable commissions. The complaint also alleged that Martino failed to know the customer. The claim alleges $543,163 in damages and is currently pending.

In February 2020, a customer complained that Martino violated the securities laws by alleging that Martino engaged in mismanagement of customer accounts.  The claim alleges $107,038 in damages and is currently pending.

In January 2020, a customer complained that Martino violated the securities laws by alleging that Martino provided poor advice which caused the customer losses. The damage amount requested was $200,000. The claim settled in the amount of $14,900.

In January 2014, a customer complained that Martino violated the securities laws by alleging that Martino engaged in unsuitable investment advice. The damage amount requested was $100,000. The claim settled in the amount of $14,500.

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shutterstock_85873471-300x200According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) financial advisor Ariel Rivero (Rivero) has at least two disclosable events.  These events include two customer complaints alleging that Rivero engaged in some form of investment related misconduct in the handling of the client’s accounts.  Rivero is currently employed by Insigneo Securities, LLC (Insigneo).  Rivero’s customer complaints alleges that Rivero recommended unsuitable investments in different investment products including options, ETFs, and private placements that include LMS Investments LLC and Octagon, S.A.

In April 2022 a customer complained that Rivero violated the securities laws by alleging that Rivero breached their fiduciary duties by recommending, failing to supervise the recommendation of, and misrepresenting the risks and facts related to two unsuitable outside investments. The investor alleged damages of $999,999 and the claim is currently pending.

In September 2021 a customer complained that Rivero violated the securities laws by alleging that Rivero breached fiduciary duties by placing the investor into unsuitable and risky investments; unauthorized use of client funds; and failure to supervise and to maintain adequate system of supervision from late 2020 onward.  The claim settled for $260,000.

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shutterstock_103610648-300x212Advisor Frederick Atiyeh (Atiyeh), currently employed by brokerage firm Crown Capital Securities, L.P. (Crown Capital) 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.  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 August 2021 a customer complained that Atiyeh violated the securities laws by alleging that Atiyeh made misrepresentation of the risk factors in regards to the purchase of several alternative investments.  The claim is currently pending and the investor seeks $50,000 in damages.

In February 2021 a customer complained that Atiyeh violated the securities laws by alleging that Atiyeh engaged in a lack of proper due diligence, lack of suitability and over concentration in regards to investments in alternative and variable annuity products.  The claim is currently pending.

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shutterstock_62862913-259x300Advisor Tony Barouti (Barouti), currently employed by brokerage firm Emerson Equity LLC (Emerson Equity) has been subject to at least 15 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 Barouti’s case many of the complaints totaling over $5 million in claimed damages have 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.
  • 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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shutterstock_132704474-300x200According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) financial advisor Mark Kemp (Kemp) has at least 14 disclosable events.  These events include 11 customer complaints alleging that Rivero engaged in some form of investment related misconduct in the handling of the client’s accounts.  In addition, Kemp has been terminated for cause by two firms and has had a regulatory matter.  Kemp is currently employed by McNally Financial Services Corporation (McNally Financial).  Kemp’s customer complaints alleges that Kemp recommended unsuitable investments in different investment products including reverse convertibles and direct participation programs among other allegations and complaints.

In April 2022 a customer complained that Kemp violated the securities laws by alleging that Kemp made unsuitable investment recommendations specific to reverse convertible securities. The investor alleged damages of $157,600 and the claim is currently pending.

In July 2021 a customer complained that Kemp violated the securities laws by alleging that Kemp violated equitable principles of trade and fair dealing, violation of Securities Act of 1933, violation of Securities Exchange Act of 1934, violation of Texas Securities Act, fraud, negligent misrepresentation, breach of fiduciary duty, and other claims.  The claim is currently pending and the investor seeks $370,006.75 in damages.

In May 2021 a customer complained that Kemp violated the securities laws by alleging that Kemp engaged in fraud, negligent misrepresentation, breach of fiduciary duty, and other claims.  The claim is currently pending and the investor seeks $100,00 in damages.

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shutterstock_156972491-300x198The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating BrokerCheck records reports that broker Richard Foerster Reynolds (Reynolds), currently employed by SW Financial has been subject to at least 13 customer complaints during the course of his career.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Reynolds’ customer complaints alleges that Reynolds recommended unsuitable investments in various investments, among other allegations of misconduct relating to the handling of their accounts, including unauthorized trading.

In April 2019, a customer complained that Reynolds violated the securities laws by alleging that Reynolds charged unauthorized commissions. The damage amount requested was $8,000. The claim settled in the amount of $4,000.

In December 2018, a customer complained that Reynolds violated the securities laws by alleging that Reynolds engaged in negligence and negligent supervision. The damage amount requested was $65,000. The claim settled in the amount of $14,500.

In November 2018, a customer complained that Reynolds violated the securities laws by alleging that Reynolds engaged in statutory and common law fraud, misrepresentation, negligence, breach of contract, and breach of fiduciary duty. The damage amount requested was $56,000. The claim settled in the amount of $14,999.99.

In May 2018, a customer complained that Reynolds violated the securities laws by alleging that Reynolds engaged in churning, improper use of margin, unsuitability, and charged high commissions.. The damage amount requested was $503,828.39. The claim settled in the amount of $150,000.

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shutterstock_188606033-300x200The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating BrokerCheck records reports that financial advisor Frank Louis Avallone (Avallone), currently employed by Ceros Financial Services, Inc (Ceros) and formerly registered with National Securities Corporation (NSC) has been subject to at least four customer complaints during the course of his career.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Mr. Avallone’s customer complaints alleges that Mr. Avallone recommended unsuitable investments.

In February 2020, a customer complained that Mr. Avallone violated the securities laws by alleging that Mr. Avallone engaged in unsuitable investment advice. The claim alleges $140,000 in damages and is currently pending.

In November 2019, a customer complained that Mr. Avallone violated the securities laws by alleging that Mr. Avallone engaged in unsuitable investment advice. The claim alleged $209,200 in damages and was later closed-no action.

In December 2013, a customer complained that Mr. Avallone violated the securities laws by alleging that Mr. Avallone engaged in unsuitable investment advice, breach of fiduciary duty, churning, negligence, and breach of contract. The claim settled in the amount of $6,100.

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