Customers Complain Broker William Sheehan Sold Unsuitable TIC Investments

shutterstock_20354398The law offices of Gana LLP is investigating a series of complaints against broker William Sheehan (Sheehan). According to Sheehan’s BrokerCheck records the broker has been the subject of 7 investor complaints since 2010. That many claims against one broker is rare. According to InvestmentNews, only about 12% of financial advisors have any type of disclosure event on their records. Thus the number of brokers receiving eight complaints is exceedingly small.

The complaints concerning Sheehan’s activities at several brokerage firms. From July 2004, through October 2007, Sheehan was associated with Investors Capital Corp. (ICC) Next, from October 2007 until January 2010, Sheehan was a registered representative of Omni Brokerage, Inc. Thereafter, Sheehan went back to ICC until October 2012. Finally, Sheehan is currently registered with DFPG Investments, Inc.

Many of the complaints against Sheehan involve allegations investment recommendations into real estate securities and limited partnership interests in tenants-in-common (TICs). TIC investments have come under fire by the customers and even within the securities industry. Indeed, due to the failure of the TIC investment strategy as a whole across the securities industry, TIC investments have virtually disappeared as offered investments.   According to InvestmentNews “At the height of the TIC market in 2006, 71 sponsors raised $3.65 billion in equity from TICs and DSTs…TICs now are all but extinct because of the fallout from the credit crisis.” In fact, TIC recommendations have been a major contributor to bankrupting several brokerage firms. For example, InvestmentNews found that 43 of the 92 broker-dealers that sold TICs sponsored by DBSI Inc., a company whose executives were later charged with running a Ponzi scheme, a staggering 47% of firms that sold DBSI are no longer in business.

Sales of TICs multiplied during the early 2000s from approximately $150 million in 2001 to approximately $2 billion by 2004. TICs are private placements that have no secondary trading market. These products were promoted to investors primarily as an appropriate section 1031 exchange which would allow the investor to defer taxes on appreciated real property. In a typical TIC, the investor receives a fractional interest in the property along with other stakeholders and the profits are generated mostly through the efforts of the sponsor and the management company that manages and leases the property. The sponsor typically structures the TIC investment with up-front fees and expenses charged to the TIC and negotiates the sale price and loan for the acquired property.

However, TIC risks and costs doomed the product. A TIC investor runs the risk of holding the property for a significant amount of time and that subsequent sales of the property may occur at a discount to the value of the real property interest. FINRA has also warned that the fees and expenses associated with TICs, including sponsor costs, can outweigh the any potential tax benefits associated with a Section 1031 Exchange.

Due to the declining sales of these products and securities industry’s increasing refusal to sell them to investors, the securities industry has implicitly acknowledged that the costs, fees, and risks associated with TIC investments outweigh any potential tax deferral benefit, a benefit that disappears because eventually the taxes have to be paid upon the sale of the TIC.

Investors who have suffered investment losses may be able recover their losses through arbitration. The attorneys at Gana LLP are experienced in representing investors in cases of unsuitable TIC recommendations and other breaches of brokerage firm’s obligations to the customers. Our consultations are free of charge and the firm is only compensated if you recover.