Customers File Complaint Against Broker Charles Geraci Over Alternative Investment Recommendations

shutterstock_156562427The securities lawyers of Gana LLP are investigating customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against broker Charles Geraci (Geraci). According to BrokerCheck records Geraci is subject to six customer complaints. The customer complaints against Geraci allege securities law violations that including unsuitable investments, breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, misrepresentations, and negligence among other claims.   Most of the claims appear to largely relate to allegations regarding the inappropriate sale of direct participation products such as limited partnerships, equipment leasing, oil & gas investments, and non-traded real estate investment trusts (Non-Traded REITs) and also variable annuities. The complaints specify certain oil & gas programs and United Mortgage Trust (UMT).

Our firm has represented many clients in these types of products. All of these investments come with high costs and historically have underperformed even safe benchmarks, like U.S. treasury bonds. For example, products like Non-Traded REITs, equipment leasing, variable annuities, and oil & gas private placements are only appropriate for a narrow band of investors under certain conditions due to the high costs, illiquidity, and huge redemption charges of the products. However, due to the high commissions brokers earn on these products they sell them to investors who cannot profit from them. Further, investor often fail to understand that they have lost money until many years after agreeing to the investment. In sum, for all of their costs and risks, investors in these programs are in no way additionally compensated for the loss of liquidity, risks, or cost.

Brokers have a responsibility treat investors fairly which includes obligations such as making only suitable investments for the client. In order to make a suitable recommendation the broker must meet certain requirements. First, there must be reasonable basis for the recommendation the product or security based upon the broker’s investigation and due diligence into the investment’s properties including its benefits, risks, tax consequences, and other relevant factors. Second, the broker then must match the investment as being appropriate for the customer’s specific investment needs and objectives such as the client’s retirement status, long or short term goals, age, disability, income needs, or any other relevant factor.

The number of events listed on Geraci brokercheck is high relative to his peers. According to InvestmentNews, only about 12% of financial advisors have any type of disclosure event on their records. Brokers must publicly disclose certain types of reportable events on their CRD including but not limited to customer complaints. In addition to disclosing client disputes brokers must divulge IRS tax liens, judgments, and criminal matters. However, FINRA’s records are not always complete according to a Wall Street Journal story that checked with 26 state regulators and found that at least 38,400 brokers had regulatory or financial red flags such as a personal bankruptcy that showed up in state records but not on BrokerCheck. More disturbing is the fact that 19,000 out of those 38,400 brokers had spotless BrokerCheck records.

Geraci entered the securities industry in 1989. From 2002 through June 2008, Geraci was registered with D.H. Hill Securities LLP. From June 2008 until January 2013 Geraci was associated with VSR Financial Services, Inc. (VSR Financial). Then, from January 2013 until December 2013 Geraci was associated with SagePoint Financial, Inc. Finally, since January 2014 Geraci has again been associated with VSR Financial out of the firm’s The Woodlands, Texas office location.

The investment fraud attorneys at Gana LLP represent investors who have suffered securities losses due to the mishandling of their accounts. The majority of these claims may be brought in securities arbitration before FINRA. Our consultations are free of charge and the firm is only compensated if you recover.