Articles Posted in Broker Theft

shutterstock_184920014-300x199The law offices of Gana Weinstein LLP are currently investigating claims that advisor James Couture (Couture) has converted customer funds among other allegations.  According to BrokerCheck records, Schmidt is formerly registered with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) member firm LPL Financial LLC (LPL Financial) out of the firm’s Worcester, Massachusetts office location.  In addition, Couture disclosed two customer complaints, one employment terminations for cause, and two regulatory actions.  If you have been a victim of Couture’s alleged misconduct our firm may be able to assist you in recovering funds.

In June 2020 LPL Financial terminated Couture alleging that he had altered identifying information, account balances and distributions in customer account statement, maintained comingled customer funds, use of an unapproved email address.  Thereafter, FINRA investigated these claims but Couture refused to comply with the agency’s requests.

In June 2021 the SEC alleged that Couture violated his fiduciary duty to his clients by engaging in a deceptive scheme to misappropriate approximately $2.9 million from them. According to the SEC, Couture fraudulently prompted his clients to sell portions of their securities holdings in order to fund large money transfers to an entity that he owned and controlled. The SEC alleges that once Couture used the fraudulently obtained authorizations to secure the sale of client securities and transfers of the proceeds to his exclusive control, Couture then spnt the money for his own benefit. Couture went so far as to lull clients into believing that their sale proceeds had been actually reinvested by providing them with fabricated account systems and account holding reviews.  The SEC found that the fabricated statements contained securities transactions that never happened, investments that did not exist, and earnings that the clients never received for the purposes of creating the false appearance that Couture had reinvested his clients’ money.

Continue Reading

shutterstock_172399811-297x300The law offices of Gana Weinstein LLP are currently investigating claims that advisor Michael Shillin (Shillin) has been accused by numerous clients of engaging in fraudulent investment activities including undisclosed outside business activities (OBAs) and private securities transactions.  According to records kept by FINRA Shillin was employed by Alliance Global Partners at the time of the activity.  If you have been a victim of Shillin’s alleged misconduct our firm may be able to assist you in recovering funds.

As reported by WEAU News, Shillin has been barred from working in the brokerage industry. FINRA has disclosed that Shillin refused to respond to the claims and complaints made against him. “In one of two new complaints, one count alleges that Shillin claimed to have purchased 20-thousand dollars in Space-X shares, but withdrew 25-thousand from their account. Another client writes that Shillin falsified documents to cover up a non-existent life insurance policy. This person wrote a check for nearly 30-thousand dollars for the policy.”

One of dozens of complaints filed relating to Shillin states “Each claimant alleges one or more of the following: that former FA misrepresented that he bought securities in claimants’ accounts when he did not actually buy them and presented claimants with documents that led them to believe the securities had been bought; represented that a claimant could obtain long-term care benefits under a rider to the claimant-spouse’s long-term care policy but never submitted the paperwork; failed to inform claimants that there were limits on penalty-free withdrawals from 401k accounts that had been rolled into an IRA; incorrectly represented to claimants they could withdraw from their IRAs when the withdrawals were prohibited transactions, and he prepared falsified accounting documents; improperly advised claimants they were eligible for a benefit under the Affordable Care Act and prepared a falsified Form 1099 reflecting a lower income; incorrectly advised claimants that investments in pre-IPO stocks would provide certain tax benefits, provided figures to include in tax returns, and represented that he would file the tax returns and forward payment to the IRS for claimants but failed to do so; incorrectly advised claimants on how much they could withdraw from their accounts to live on; and/or incorrectly advised claimants they could retire based on the purported performance of their portfolios.”

Continue Reading

shutterstock_186772637-300x199The law offices of Gana Weinstein LLP are currently investigating claims that advisory firm Yellowstone Partners, LLP, of Idaho Falls, and its two principals, David Hansen (Hansen) and Cameron High (High) fraudulently overbilled clients and charged fees for work not performed.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) High was employed by Crown Capital Securities, L.P. through October 2017.  If you have been a victim of Hansen’s and High’s misconduct our firm may be able to assist you in recovering funds.

According to the SEC, Yellowstone overbilled investment advisory clients as part of a fraudulent scheme to inflate the firm’s income. The SEC claims that High participated in the fraudulent scheme by causing the overbilled management fees to be charged to and taken from client accounts.  The Defendants are accused and later pled guilty to stealing over $11.8 million from over 120 client accounts by overbilling clients for investment advisory management fees that were never earned.

The SEC alleged that the overbillings were taken from unsuspecting clients to generate additional revenue to cover Yellowstone’s operating expenses and to support Hansen’s lavish lifestyle. The SEC found that the advisors targeted specific accounts in a small number of larger accounts where overbilled fees would be less noticeable.  In carrying out their scheme, the advisors allegedly billed client accounts twice for periodic management fees taking double the amount of fees earned during particular periods. In addition, the advisors also failed to maintain current investment advisory agreements for each client and to keep such records easily accessible for a period of five years.

On March 14, 2018, High pled guilty to one count of wire fraud before the United States District Court for the Northern District of Idaho.

Continue Reading

shutterstock_185190197-300x199The law offices of Gana Weinstein LLP are currently investigating claims that advisor Ronald Hannes (Hannes) has been accused by a financial regulator of engaging in converting client funds among other allegations.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Hannes was employed by his prior employer Woodbury Financial Services, Inc. (Woodbury Financial) prior to being investigated concerning his activities.  If you have been a victim of Hannes’ alleged misconduct our firm may be able to assist you in recovering funds.

In December 2019, Hannes was terminated by Woodbury Financial for cause after the firm received notice from a client that funds were paid to the representative for purchase of a life insurance contract that were not forwarded to the life insurance company.

Thereafter, FINRA investigated Woodbury Financials’ disclosures and Hannes refused to cooperate with FINRA.  FINRA found that Hannes consented to sanctions and findings that he failed to produce documents and information requested by FINRA during its investigation into allegations that he converted customer funds.

In March 2020, the Securities Division of the State of Washington filed a complaint against Hannes alleging that from approximately 2003 to 2019, Hannes engaged in an extensive, long-term fraud against his Woodbury Financial clients by convincing them to write checks to Hannes Financial Services, Inc. for off-the-books investments and then used the money for other purposes.  In total, Hannes is alleged to have defrauded at least nineteen clients out of at least $2.9 million.

The State of Washington alleges that Hannes generally approached existing clients and misrepresented to them that he had an opportunity for a fixed-rate investment in either a bond, or in a unit investment trust which functioned similarly to a bond.  It is alleged that Hannes did not provide investors with any offering documents for to the investments or financial statements and in some cases did not even identify the company in which the client would be investing.  Instead, it is alleged that Hannes most commonly stated that the investments offered a return of 5% to 7%, and could be rolled over into new investments at the end of their fixed terms in the two-to-five-year range.  Investors are then alleged to have been solicited to roll over their investments rather than requesting withdrawals.  Hannes is alleged to have had the clients write the checks to HFS, whose bank accounts he controlled as the owner of the company.  Hannes is then alleged to have created false account statements and company names to provide the appearance that actual investments had been made.

Continue Reading

shutterstock_172399811-297x300The law offices of Gana Weinstein LLP are currently investigating claims that advisor George Schmidt (Schmidt) has converted customer funds among other allegations.  According to BrokerCheck records, Schmidt is formerly registered with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) member firm Lincoln Financial Advisors Corporation (Lincoln Financial) out of the firm’s Melville, New York office location.  In addition, Schmidt disclosed four customer complaint, one employment terminations for cause, and one regulatory action.  If you have been a victim of Schmidt’s alleged misconduct our firm may be able to assist you in recovering funds.

According to FINRA, Schmidt refused provide documents and information to FINRA in connection with an investigation into allegations made by his firm upon his termation.

In November 2019 Lincoln Financial terminated Schmidt stating that he was discharged while under allegations of misappropriation related to undisclosed outside business activity serving as trustee for a non-family member.

Schmidt’s disclosed outside business activities include Schmidt Associates.

Continue Reading

shutterstock_186471755-300x200The law offices of Gana Weinstein LLP are currently investigating claims that advisor John Cahill (Cahill) has converted customer funds among other allegations.  According to BrokerCheck records, Cahill is formerly registered with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) member firm Janney Montgomery Scott LLC (Janney).  In addition, Cahill disclosed one customer complaint, two employment terminations for cause, and one regulatory action.  If you have been a victim of Cahill’s alleged misconduct our firm may be able to assist you in recovering funds.

According to FINRA, Cahill consented to sanctions and to findings that he refused provide documents and information and to appear for testimony requested by FINRA in connection with an investigation into allegations that he commingled and/or converted funds belonging to, and served as power-of-attorney for, an elderly individual who was his customer while he was associated with his former member firm.

In March 2019 Janney terminated Cahill stating that he was discharged while under internal review regarding receipt of funds while acting as POA for a client.

Continue Reading

shutterstock_93851422-300x240The law offices of Gana Weinstein LLP are currently investigating claims that advisor Lester Burroughs (Burroughs) is converted customer funds among other allegations.  According to BrokerCheck records, Burroughs is formerly registered with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) member firm Lincoln Investment.  In addition, Burroughs disclosed 17 customer complaints.  If you have been a victim of Burroughs’ alleged misconduct our firm may be able to assist you in recovering funds.

According to news sources, Burroughs is facing up to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to misappropriating $575,000 in client assets.  Burroughs waived his right to be indicted and entered the plea in U.S. District Court of Connecticut as part of a deal in which he agreed to pay the full $575,000 in restitution to the victims of his crimes.  It was alleged that Burroughs defrauded three clients in a Ponzi scheme from about 2012 to 2019.  In addition, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced separate civil charges against Burroughs stating that he misappropriated $560,000 after telling clients he would invest their money in guaranteed interest contracts with guaranteed returns of 4% or 7%.  However, the SEC found that Burroughs instead used the money to pay his own expenses and the return funds to other clients.

Our law firm has significant experience bringing cases on behalf of defrauded victims when their advisors engage in receiving loans from clients or selling securities sales through OBAs.  The sale of unapproved investment products – is a practice known in the industry as “selling away” – a serious violation of the securities laws.  In the industry the term selling away refers to when a financial advisor solicits investments in companies, promissory notes, or other securities that are not pre-approved by the broker’s affiliated firm.  Sometimes those investments have some legitimacy but often times these types of investments can end up being Ponzi schemes or the advisor can be engaging in the conversion of funds.

Continue Reading

shutterstock_1744162-300x200The law offices of Gana Weinstein LLP are currently investigating claims that advisor Gerald Eaton (Eaton) was terminated by his firm and then barred from the securities industry over allegations that he engaged in wrongful taking of customer funds among other allegations.  According to BrokerCheck records, Eaton was formerly registered with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) member firm Commonwealth Financial Network (CommonWealth Financial).  If you have been a victim of Eaton’s alleged misconduct our firm may be able to assist you in recovering funds.

In November 2019 FINRA barred Eaton finding that Eaton consented to the sanction and findings that he failed to provide documents and information requested by FINRA in connection with its investigation. FINRA stated that in the Form U5, Eaton’s member firm stated that the reason for the termination was that he fraudulently facilitated distributions from clients’ accounts without their knowledge or consent or for their benefit.  Commonwealth discharged Eaton in October 2019 for forgery and the wrongful taking of property.

According to Eaton’s publicly disclosed records the only outside business activities disclosed including The Heritage Financial Group and subleasing office space.  It is unclear at this time whether FINRA’s allegations concern these entities.

Continue Reading

shutterstock_184920014-300x199The law offices of Gana Weinstein LLP are currently investigating claims that advisor Dain Stokes (Stokes) was discharged by his employer after being accused of running an investment fraud scheme.  According to BrokerCheck records, Stokes is formerly registered with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) member firm LPL Financial LLC (LPL Financial).  In addition, Stokes disclosed two regulatory complaints and four customer complaints.  If you have been a victim of Stokes’ alleged misconduct our firm may be able to assist you in recovering funds.

On August 1, 2019 an investor reported to the Fremont Police Department that he had possibly been defrauded by Stokes related to an investment of two hundred one thousand dollars.  The complaint alleges that the investment was for an alleged project in Africa purportedly involving popstar Taylor Swift.  The victim provided copies of cancelled checks, unsecured promissory notes, and text messages to the Fremont Police Department that corroborated his complaint.

According to the complaint Stokes used fraudulent messages to continue to entice the investor including:

  • On November 29, 2018, Stokes is claimed to have wrote: “We are getting close, a week, maybe two, I just had a long talk with Taylor about it in the middle of the night lol.”
  • On May 8, 2019, Stokes is claimed to have wrote: “Taylor is meeting with Bill Gates and the rest of the sponsors who are paying out the commissions on May 20th To try in wrap things up, so we all get paid.”
  • On June 12, 2019, Stokes is claimed to have wrote: “Trump’s illegally locked my bank accounts, and I’m fighting it in the Federal Bank Commission in the New Hampshire AG’s Office. Taylor is releasing a new song on Instagram in 30 minutes and I’m promoting it.”

In August 2019 LPL Financial discharged Stokes in connection with State of New Hampshire suspension of investment adviser agent and broker-dealer representative license.

Continue Reading

shutterstock_76996033-300x200The law offices of Gana Weinstein LLP are currently investigating claims that advisor David Rockwell (Rockwell) was discharged by his employer after being accused of misappropriating client funds.  According to BrokerCheck records, Rockwell is formerly registered with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) member firm Cetera Advisor Networks LLC (Cetera).  In addition, Rockwell disclosed two customer complaints related to misappropriating funds. If you have been a victim of Rockwell’s alleged misconduct our firm may be able to assist you in recovering funds.

Rockwell also discloses multiple criminal events, firm terminations, and one regulatory event.  In May 2013 Rockwell discloses a guilty plea for assault and battery along with operating while intoxicated.  Then in November 2018 Rockwell was accused of aggravated stalking.

In July 2015 the State of Florida accused Rockwell of making material false statement on the application for registration and denied his securities registration in the state.

In June 2019 a customer complained that Rockwell violated the securities laws by alleging that Rockwell misappropriated money from his investment accounts to invest in a private security related to a company owned by Rockwell. The claim alleges $500,000 in damages and settled for $215,000.

In July 2019 a customer complained that Rockwell violated the securities laws by alleging that Rockwell was involved in forgery and fraud regarding their accounts.  The claim alleges $700,000 in damages and is currently pending.

Continue Reading

Contact Information