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shutterstock_113872627-300x300According to BrokerCheck records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) former Westpark Capital, Inc. (Westpark Capital) broker Lawrence Fawcett (Fawcett) has been subject to five customer complaints, two regulatory actions and one termination for cause.  Fawcett was barred by FINRA from the securities industry in March 2018 after failing to appear for testimony in connection with an investigation regarding Fawcett’s outside business activities.  At around the same time Fawcett was terminated by Westpark Capital on allegations that he conducted business from a non-disclosed location and made false representations to the firm.

In December 2017 Fawcett was sanctioned by FINRA on allegations that he recommended unsuitable mutual fund transactions to a customer by recommending 12 different mutual fund families instead of obtaining favorable breakpoint discounts for the customer.

In addition, many of the customer complaints against Fawcett concern high frequency trading activity also referred to as churning or excessive trading.  In May 2018 a customer filed a complaint alleging excessive trading, churning, and unsuitable transactions seeking $33,271 in damages.  The claim is currently pending.

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shutterstock_184433255-300x228The investment lawyers of Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating the regulatory action brought by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against Charles Lundell (Lundell).   According to BrokerCheck records, Lundell was suspended by FINRA in November 2017 for executing unauthorized trades in customers’ non-discretionary accounts. In addition, Lundell has been subject to two customer disputes, a regulatory action sanctioned by the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), and two discharges from member firms.

In November 2017, FINRA found that Lundell violated the NASD Conduct Rule 2510(b) and FINRA Rule 2010 by executing unauthorized transactions in five of his customers’ non-discretionary accounts. From January to February 2017, Lundell exercised discretion of $252,912 of four equity securities in his customers’ accounts and sold $65,788 of one of the equity securities without customer or firm approval. FINRA fined Lundell $5,000 and suspended him for 30 days.

In addition, in March 2017, Lundell was discharged from First Allied Securities, Inc. for violating the firm policy regarding the execution of unauthorized transactions without the firm’s required approval.

Lundell has also been subject to multiple customer complaints. In October 2017, a customer alleged that Lundell had breached contract, committed negligence, and breached fiduciary duty which resulted in an alleged $100,000 in losses to the customer. The case was settled at $90,513. Continue Reading

shutterstock_110076890-300x233According to BrokerCheck records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), broker David Reynolds (Reynolds) was barred in November 2017 from the financial industry for concerning allegations that he misappropriated customer funds and did not provide requested documents to FINRA. According to FINRA, Reynolds consented to the sanction and bar due to the fact that he refused to provide requested documents during a period of investigation.   At this time it is unclear the extent and nature of the appropriation that occurred.

Reynolds employer, Allstate Financial Services LLC (Allstate Financial), discharged Reynolds in October 2017 for Reynold’s failure to produce requested documents for the firm’s investigation of his alleged misappropriation of customer funds.

In addition, Reynolds has been subject to a customer complaint. In January 2018, a customer alleged that Reynolds did not return customer’s investment funds to the customer. The dispute settled at $66,654.25. Continue Reading

shutterstock_160304408-300x199The law offices of Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating investor recovery options due to the alleged pay advance fraud scheme orchestrated by Future Income Payments, LLC (Future Income Payments) also known as Pensions, Annuities, and Settlements, LLC, and its owner Scott Kohn (Kohn). Future Income Payments has been subject to regulatory action in numerous states including at least Washington, California, Colorado, Iowa, Indiana, North Carolina, New York   Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.  In addition, on November 23, 2016 The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) served Future Income Payments with a Civil Investigative Demand.  In response Future Income Payments requested the order to be dismissed and also filed its own lawsuit challenging the bureau’s constitutionality and demanding that the firm’s name be kept confidential.  Future Income Payments lost that bid.

At the heart of the alleged scheme is the misrepresentation that Future Income Payments engages in agreements that are sales of pensions and not loans. However, regulators have claimed that the company misstates the effect of the contract and that in fact pensioners are entering into a consumer loan and not a sale.  The purpose of the misrepresentations are to try to exempt Future Income Payments’ loans from consumer lending laws and regulations and to collect interest on loans at illegal rates.

According to regulators the “sales” misrepresentation is clear from Future Income Payments’ agreement because the consumer receives a sum of money that he is then obligated to repay.  The Future Income Payments contract specifies the consumer’s future pension payments which actually constitute a repayment schedule for a loan.  According to regulators, interest rates for the loan in some examples reached 130% a year.

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shutterstock_172399811-297x300The 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) Robin “Rob” Reading (Reading) appears to be an agent for Woodbridge fraudulent note sales.  Reading was formerly associated with Sigma Financial Corporation (Sigma) out of the firm’s Highland, Michigan office location.  Thereafter, Reading was a registered advisor with Emerald Blue Advisors and Gradient Advisors, LLC.

The State of Michigan sanctioned Reading finding that Reading offered or sold eight Woodbridge securities in the State of Michigan which were not federally covered, exempt from registration, or registered, in violation of the securities laws.

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shutterstock_128856874-300x200The securities attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are currently investigating previously registered broker John James (James). According to BrokerCheck records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), in March 2016, James was discharged  by his firm, Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated (Merrill Lynch) based on allegations that James was engaging in outside business activities, private investments, and borrowing money from clients without disclosing the activities to the firm.  Subsequently, in September 2016, James was also discharged from Stifel Nicolaus for providing inaccurate information on his employment application (U5) regarding the status of an internal inquiry at his prior firm, Merrill Lynch.

In December 2017, FINRA barred James from the industry after James failed to provide FINRA with requested documents and information regarding these allegations and activities.  FINRA sought documents concerning the circumstances surrounding Jones’s termination from his member firm and of certain outside business activities that James was involved in while registered with the firm. After James refused to show up to an on-the-record testimony regarding these allegations, he was barred from the industry for being in violation of F1NRA Rule 8210, James violates FINRA Rules 8210 and 2010.

In addition, James has been subject to one customer complaint. In May 2009, a customer alleged that James recommended unsuitable investments. The case was settled at $160,000 in damages. Continue Reading

shutterstock_190371512-300x200The securities attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating claims against Dakota Securities International, Inc. (Dakota Securities) broker Felipe Arrieta (Arrieta). According to BrokerCheck records, Arrieta has been subject to four customer complaints, one of which is still pending. The majority of these disputes concern unauthorized trading and misuse of margin.

In April 2017, a customer alleged that from 2015 to 2016, Arrieta engaged in a misuse of margin and committed negligence. The customer is requesting $210,000 in damages. This dispute is currently still pending.

In November 2011, a customer alleged that Arrieta was engaging in unauthorized trading without the knowledge or approval of the customer. The customer requested $15,000 for damages. Continue Reading

shutterstock_156764942-200x300The securities attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating claims against UBS Financial Services Inc. (UBS Financial) broker Samuel Rankin (Rankin). According to BrokerCheck records, Rankin has been subject to eight customer complaints, two of which are still pending. The majority of these complaints concern the misallocation of customers’ funds into unsuitable investments.

Most recently, in September 2017, a customer alleged that from 2015 to 2016, Rankin misallocated funds into highly risky investments which were unsuitable to the customer’s needs.  The customer is requesting $849,221 for damages. This dispute is still pending.

In August 2017, a customer alleged that from 2009 to 2017, Rankin misallocated retirement funds into aggressive investments that were unsuitable to the customers’ needs and violated their written agreement to placement in only moderate-risk investments. This dispute is still pending. Continue Reading

shutterstock_66745735-300x200The investment lawyers of Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating the regulatory action brought by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against Sandeep Varma (Varma).  According to BrokerCheck records, Varma has been subject to two regulatory matters in which FINRA sanctioned Varma for various violations of the securities laws. In addition, Varma has been subject to five customer complaints. The majority of these complaints involve the recommendation of unsuitable and misrepresented variable investments including CRTs and life insurance policies.

In January 2018, FINRA found that Varma misrepresented a real-estate planning strategy involving Charitable Remainder Trusts (CRTs) to 70 potential customers by providing misleading claims about the nature of deferred capital gains taxes, risks, and rewards that are involved in CRTs. In addition, Varma recommended that the sale of appreciated assets should be invested into variable annuities and into premiums for an insurance policy. While recommending these investments, Varma failed to disclose that the premium payments for the life insurance policy were dependent on performance of investments in the CRT and that this yielded risk for lapse in the insurance policy. FINRA found that Varma’s positive projection of the performance of investments in the CRT and life insurance policy was exaggerated in a promissory manner because it didn’t disclose the reasonable possibility of negative investment performance. In February 2018, Varma was suspended for 10 days and fined $15,000. Without admitting or denying the findings, Varma consented to the sanctions and to the entry of findings.

Varma has also been subject to numerous customer complaints over the course of his career.  The most recent case was filed in August 2017 and alleged that in 2000, Varma recommended an unsuitable life insurance policy investment to customers. The claim was settled at $350,000.

In January 2016 another customer filed a complaint alleging that from 2002 to 2014, Varma recommended an unsuitable insurance life policy to customers. The claim was settled for $850,000. Continue Reading

shutterstock_12144202-300x200According to BrokerCheck records financial advisor Herbert Voss (Voss), formerly associated with Stockcross Financial Services, Inc. (Stockcross Financial), has been subject to eight customer complaints, one FINRA action, and one employment termination.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Voss was barred from the financial industry in May 2018 when Voss consented to the sanction and to the entry of findings that he refused to appear for FINRA testimony concerning a customer complaint alleging that Voss had engaged in unauthorized trading in the customer’s account.  The refusal to cooperate draws an automatic bar from the industry.

In December 2017, a customer filed a complaint alleging that Voss’ investments caused poor performance and $550,000 in damages.  The claim is currently pending.  Prior to that, in February 2017 a client accused Voss of causing $900,000 in damages due to unsuitable investments.

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