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shutterstock_189496604-300x200The law offices of Gana Weinstein LLP are currently investigating claims that advisor Dwight Dykstra (Dykstra) has been accused by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) of engaging in undisclosed outside business activities (OBAs) and private securities transactions.  According to records kept by FINRA Dykstra was employed by Vision Brokerage Services, LLC (Vision Brokerage) a the time of the activity and is now registered Alternative Investment Advisors, LLC (Alternative Investment).  If you have been a victim of Dykstra’s alleged misconduct our firm may be able to assist you in recovering funds.

According to FINRA, the regulator sanctioned Dykstra after he consented to the sanction that he participated in private securities transactions without providing prior written notice to his member firm. The findings stated that, while registered through with his firm, Dykstra participated in private securities transactions by soliciting investments in promissory notes issued by a company raising capital to develop a senior living real estate project. FINRA found that Dykstra contacted prospective investors to inform them of the investment opportunity, provided marketing materials to interested investors, participated in communications between the issuer and interested investors, and facilitated the sale of approximately $2 million of promissory notes to 21 investors.  FINRA also found that Dykstra was paid $67,500 in selling compensation for his participation in the transactions.

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shutterstock_180341738-200x300The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating BrokerCheck records reports that broker Joseph Gebron (Gebron) currently employed by SW Financial has been subject to at least seven customer complaints, one employment termination for cause, and one criminal matter during the course of his career.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Gebron’s customer complaints alleges that Gebron recommended unsuitable investments in various investments. Allegations involving common and preferred stocks, and private placement securities, among other allegations of misconduct relating to the handling of their accounts.

In January 2013, a customer complained that Gebron violated the securities laws by alleging that Gebron engaged in unauthorized trading, misleading representations, and omissions. The claim alleges $820,000 in damages and is currently pending.

In February 2012, a customer complained that Gebron violated the securities laws by alleging that Gebron engaged in negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, and breach of contract. The claim settled in the amount of $47,500.

In May 2011, a customer complained that Gebron violated the securities laws by alleging that Gebron engaged in unsuitable investment advice, violation of common law fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, and negligence.  The claim settled in the amount of $45,000.

In November 2009, a customer complained that Gebron violated the securities laws by alleging that Gebron engaged in unsuitable investment advice, negligence, and breach of fiduciary duty. The claim settled in the amount of $50,000.

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shutterstock_85873471-300x200Advisor Kevin Houser (Houser), currently employed by brokerage firm Ameriprise Financial Services, LLC (Ameriprise) has been subject to at least four customer complaints during the course of his career.  According to a BrokerCheck report several 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.

In November 2020 a customer complained that Houser violated the securities laws by alleging that Houser made misleading recommendations in various REITs and BDCs including Franklin Square, Cole Credit Property Trust IV, and CIM REIT.  The claim involves alternative investments and alleges $358,000 damages, and is currently pending.

In July 2020 a customer complained that Houser violated the securities laws by alleging that Houser made misleading recommendations in various REITs, BDCs, and an annuity including Franklin Square.  The claim involves alternative investments and alleges $300,000 damages, and is currently pending.

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shutterstock_1081038-300x200The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating BrokerCheck records reports that former broker Martin Batstone (Batstone), barred from acting as a broker from FINRA, has been subject to at least six customer complaints and two regulatory actions during the course of his career. Batstone was most recently associated with Newbridge Securities Corporation (Newbridge). According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Batstone’s customer complaints alleges that Batstone recommended unsuitable investments in various investments including allegations involving private securities, annuities, mutual funds, and REITs, among other allegations of misconduct relating to the handling of their accounts.

In October 2019, FINRA filed a regulatory action finding that Batstone consented to sanctions. Batstone was a respondent in a FINRA complaint. The complaint alleged that Batstone willfully violated Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange act of 1934, and Rule 10b-5(a)-(c), and FINRA Rule 2010, by transferring client funds into his personal bank accounts. FINRA has barred Batstone from acting as a broker or otherwise being associated with a broker-dealer firm, starting February 2020.

In October 2017, a customer complained that Batstone violated the securities laws by alleging that Batstone engaged in unsuitable investment advice, due to the purchase of two annuities unsuitable for the client based on her risk tolerance.  The claim settled in the amount of $5,000.

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shutterstock_155045255-289x300The law offices of Gana Weinstein LLP are currently investigating claims that advisor Xerxes Mullan (Mullan) has been accused by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) of engaging in undisclosed outside business activities (OBAs) and private securities transactions.  According to records kept by FINRA Mullan was employed by Purshe Kaplan Sterling Investments (Purshe Kaplan) through June 2019.  If you have been a victim of Mullan’s alleged misconduct our firm may be able to assist you in recovering funds.

According to FINRA, the regulator sanctioned Mullan after he consented to the sanction that he participated in private securities transactions involving approximately $6 million in total sales without his member firm’s knowledge or approval.  FINRA found that Mullan disclosed his role at a registered investment advisor to his firm but that Mullan did not provide prior written notice to the firm of his participation in the securities offerings. In addition, FINRA also found that Mullan falsely certified on the firm’s annual compliance questionnaires that he was not involved in any private securities transaction that had not been previously disclosed to the firm.

Mullan’s BrokerCheck also reveals several disclosed OBAs including Avestar Capital Partners, One motel condo, several rental properties, among other disclosures.

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shutterstock_186471755-300x200According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) financial advisor Timothy O’Brien (O’Brien), formerly employed by Feltl & Company has been subject to numerous disclosures including at least six customer complaints, two criminal matters, four judgement or tax liens, and regulatory complaints during the course of his career.  O’Brien customer complaints alleges that O’Brien recommended unsuitable investments, made misrepresentations, and overconcentrated investments relating to the handling of client accounts.

In November 2020 O’Brien consented to FINRA findings and sanctions that he placed unauthorized trades in a customer’s account. FINRA found that O’Brien sold a limited partnership position in the customer’s account and purchased Class A shares of a mutual fund. FINRA found that O’Brien then attempted to call the customer to discuss the trades but did not reach her before executing the transactions.

In July 2020 a customer complained that O’Brien violated the securities laws by alleging that O’Brien made unsuitable investments, over concentration, and misrepresentation resulting in excessive losses in the account.  The claim alleged $450,000 in damages and settled for $350,000.

O’Brien has several large tax liens.  Such disclosures on a broker’s CRD can be a red flag that the broker may be influenced to engage in high commission activity in order to satisfy personal debts.  In addition, a broker’s inability to manage their own finances is relevant in a customer’s decision to use their services. Continue Reading

shutterstock_146470052-300x205The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP have been receiving investor complaints concerning advisors recommending what the advisors call hedge or bear market products to the investors causing large investor losses.  These complaints often involve large holdings in derivative, leveraged, or inverse investment vehicles that are extraordinarily risky.  Further, such investments are not bear market investments or account protection investments.  These investments are usually leveraged bets against general market indices that have long time history of growth.

Two favorite advisor bets against the general market are leveraged ETFs and VIX related investments.  An ETF is a registered investment trust whose shares represent an interest in a portfolio of securities that track an underlying benchmark or index.  Leveraged ETFs differ from other ETFs in that they seek to return a multiple of the performance of the underlying index or benchmark or the inverse or opposite performance.

To accomplish their objectives non-traditional and leveraged ETFs typically contain very complex investment products, including interest rate swap agreements, futures contracts, and other derivative instruments.  Moreover, leveraged or non-traditional ETFs are designed to achieve their stated objectives only over the course of one trading session, i.e., in one day. This is because between trading sessions the fund manager for the ETF generally will rebalance the fund’s holdings in order to meet the fund’s objectives and is known as the “daily reset.”  As a result of the daily reset the correlation between the performance of a leveraged ETF and its linked index or benchmark is inexact and “tracking error” occurs.  Over longer periods of time or pronounced during periods of volatility, this “tracking error” between a non-traditional ETF and its benchmark becomes compounded significantly.

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shutterstock_20002264-300x200Advisor Gary Ginsberg (Ginsberg), currently employed by brokerage firm Ameriprise Financial Services, LLC (Ameriprise) has been subject to at least four customer complaints and one regulatory action during the course of his career.  According to a BrokerCheck report several 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.

In September 2020 a customer complained that Ginsberg violated the securities laws by alleging that Ginsberg made an unreasonable due diligence review of an alternative investment. The claim involves alternative investments, alleges $100,000 damages, and is currently pending.

In August 2020 a customer complained that Ginsberg violated the securities laws by alleging that Ginsberg made an unsuitable recommendation to purchase a non-traded REIT.  The claim involves alternative investments and alleges $5,000 damages and was denied by the firm.

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shutterstock_145123405-200x300Advisor Christopher Ortiz (Ortiz), currently employed by National Securities (National Securities) has been subject to at least two customer complaints during the course of his career.  According to a BrokerCheck report the complaints appear to concern unsuitable investments in private placements investments.  These allegations may concern investments in GPB Capital Holdings (GPB Capital) related investments.  National Securities is known to have approved their brokers to sell GPB Capital to their clients.

On February 4, 2021 the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York (DOJ), and seven states filed separate simultaneous actions against GPB Capital and other defendants connected to the firm accusing it of being a Ponzi-like scheme.  In a press release the SEC stated that it “charged three individuals and their affiliated entities with running a Ponzi-like scheme that raised over $1.7 billion…”

As reported by Bloomberg “If proved, [GPB] would be one of the largest such schemes to target individual investors since the massive frauds of Bernard Madoff and Robert Allen Stanford came to light.”  The DOJ indicted David Gentile, the founder of GPB, Jeffry Schneider, the owner and CEO of Ascendant Capital LLC, and Jeffrey Lash, a former managing partner of GPB relating to the fraud.  If convicted, the defendants each face up to 20 years’ imprisonment.[1]

New York Attorney General Letitia James accused GPB of “defrauding investors across the country out of more than $700 million through a Ponzi-like scheme that offered to pay investors generous monthly distributions they could never deliver.”[2]  Further, “Investors put in more than $1.8 billion into GPB funds but were left without a single cent of profit,” said Attorney General James.  Investor funds are alleged to have been spent to subsidize expensive toys like private planes, Ferrari sports cars, and luxury travel for the three defendants.

What’s GPB Worth Now?  “According to court papers, GPB claimed to manage just $239 million as of December, despite raising the $1.8 billion.”[3]  If true, this would reflect approximately 13% of investors’ total investments across all GPB funds. Continue Reading

shutterstock_102217105-300x200Advisor Conrad Corcoran (Corcoran), currently employed by brokerage firm Centaurus Financial, Inc. has been subject to at least four customer complaints during the course of his career.  According to a BrokerCheck report the two most recent customer complaints filed in 2020 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.

In July 2020 a customer complained that Corcoran violated the securities laws by alleging that Corcoran made investments where the documentation for their investments contained incorrect personal information and that certain initials/signatures were not theirs. The claim involves a real estate security, alleged damages, and is currently pending.

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

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