The investment lawyers of Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating the allegations made by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority against broker Ann Comcowich (Comcowich). According to the broker’s file on FINRA’s BrokerCheck, Comcowich allegedly refused to provide the proper documentation and information to FINRA that was necessary during an ongoing investigation regarding an amended Form U5 that was filed by her former firm. During her employment at Prudential, Comcowich was allegedly suspected of processing 13 unauthorized withdrawals from customer accounts. In April 2017, due to these allegations, Comcowich was barred from holding any registration capacities in FINRA.
Comcowich entered the industry in 1999 and had 16 years of experience as a registered broker. Before being barred, she was employed at Prudential Investment Management Services LLC from March 2000 to November 2016.
The term “securities fraud” covers a range of illegal activities involving the deception of investors or the manipulation of the financial markets. Fraud includes false representations, unauthorized trading, value manipulation, and Ponzi schemes. Investors are protected against fraudulent securities activities by several different civil laws.
First, the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (15 U.S.C. § 78a et seq.) and Rule 10b-5 protect investors against deceptive and manipulative acts in the purchase or sale of securities. This sweeping legislation is the cornerstone of federal securities laws. Rule 10b-5 makes it unlawful to employ a device or scheme to defraud, to make any untrue statement of material fact or omit to state a material fact not misleading, or to engage in any practice that would operate as a fraud.
Second, the vast majority of states have passed “blue sky” laws that regulate the securities industry in each state and protect investors. Even if a state has not enacted specific securities laws, an investor can still pursue a claim under theories of common law fraud.
Third, investors can pursue claims against a broker or a brokerage firm under the rules of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), including its anti-fraud provisions. The FINRA rules have several provisions pertaining to fraud including IM-2310-2 (covering churning, false accounts, unauthorized trading, and misuse of customer funds) and Rule 2210 (covering communications with the public).
The number of complaints against Comcowich 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.
The dedicated attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP represent investors who have suffered losses due to securities fraud. 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.