Advisor Jeffrey Smith Sanctioned Over Forged Account Documents

shutterstock_1744162-300x200According to BrokerCheck records financial advisor Jeffrey Smith (Smith), formerly associated with Accelerated Capital Group (Accelerated Capital), has been subject to five customer complaints and two regulatory actions.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Smith has been accused by customers of unsuitable investment advice, securities fraud, and excessive trading among other claims.

The most recent regulatory action occurred in September 2017.  FINRA found that Smith maintained and utilized pre-signed and altered forms to conduct his securities business. FINRA determined that Smith’s conduct caused his brokerage firm to have inaccurate books and records. FINRA alleged that Smith had three customers sign blank forms and then made photocopies of some of the blank-signed forms so that he could reuse the customers’ signatures.  FINRA found that Smith then utilized these blank-signed forms to effect transactions.

In 2011 FINRA sanctioned Smith for failing to supervise brokers and enforce the firm’s supervisory procedures.

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 complaints against Smith are unusual compared to his peers.  According to newsources, only about 7.3% of financial advisors have any type of disclosure event on their records among brokers employed from 2005 to 2015.  Brokers must publicly disclose reportable events on their CRD customer complaints, IRS tax liens, judgments, investigations, and even criminal matters.  However, studies have found that there are fraud hotspots such as certain parts of California, New York or Florida, where the rates of disclosure can reach 18% or higher.  Moreover, according to the New York Times, BrokerCheck may be becoming increasing inaccurate and understate broker misconduct as studies have shown that 96.9% of broker requests to clean their records of complaints are granted.

Smith entered the securities industry in 1993.  From March 2010 until July 2016 Smith was associated with Accelerated Capital out of the firm’s Irvine, California office location.

At Gana LLP, our attorneys are experienced representing investors who have suffered securities losses due to the mishandling of their accounts.  Claims may be brought in securities arbitration before FINRA.  Our consultations are free of charge and the firm is only compensated if you recover.