Articles Posted in Investment Attorney

shutterstock_157018310-300x200Advisor Richard Pittman (Pittman), currently employed by Cetera Advisors LLC (Cetera) has been subject to at least three customer complaints during the course of his career.  According to a BrokerCheck report the customer complaints mostly concerns alternative investments such as direct participation products (DPPs) like non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs), oil & gas programs, annuities, and equipment leasing programs.  The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP have extensive experience handling investor losses caused by these types of products.

In October 2018 a customer complained that Pittman violated the securities laws by alleging that the financial advisor made unsuitable investment starting in 2008 among other allegations associated non-traded REITs and other DPPs causing $300,000 in damages. The claim is currently pending.

In August 2018 a customer complained that Pittman violated the securities laws by alleging that the financial advisor made unsuitable investment starting in 2008 among other allegations associated non-traded REITs and other DPPs causing $736,000 in damages. The claim is currently pending.

DDPs such as non-traded REITs, oil and gas offerings, equipment leasing products, and other alternative investments virtually never profit investors.  These products are almost always unsuitable for investors because of their high fee and cost structure.  Brokers sell these products are paid additional commission in order to hype these inferior quality investments providing a perverse incentives to create an artificial market for products that no honest advisor would sell.

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shutterstock_187083428-300x198Advisor Craig Sherrer (Sherrer), currently employed by Janney Montgomery Scott LLC (Janney Montgomery) and formerly with Newbridge Securities Corporation (Newbridge Securities) has been subject to at least one customer complaint during the course of his career.  According to a BrokerCheck report the customer complaint concerns alternative investments such as direct participation products (DPPs) like non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs), oil & gas programs, annuities, and equipment leasing programs.  The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP have extensive experience handling investor losses caused by these types of products.

In April 2019 a customer complained that Sherrer violated the securities laws by alleging that the financial advisor breached their fiduciary duty, negligence, and breach of contract among other allegations associated non-traded REITs causing $1,500,000 in damages. The claim is currently pending.

Our firm often handles cases involving annuities and direct participation products, Non-Traded REITs, oil and gas offerings, equipement leasing products, and other alternative investments.  These products are almost always unsuitable for investors.  In addition, the brokers who sell them are paid additional commission in order to hype inferior quality investments which provides a perverse incentives by brokers to create an artificial market for products that no honest advisor would sell.

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shutterstock_152933045-300x200Advisor Christopher Bice (Bice), currently employed by SagePoint Financial, Inc. (SagePoint Financial) has been subject to at least four customer complaints and one termination for cause during the course of his career.  According to a BrokerCheck report some of the customer complaints concern variable annuities and alternative investments such as direct participation products (DPPs) like non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs), oil & gas programs, annuities, and equipment leasing programs.  The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP have extensive experience handling investor losses caused by these types of products.

Bice operates under the d/b/a name Bice Wealth Management.  In addition, Bice has several other disclosed outside business activities including Shelton, Nelson & Associates, rental property sales, and Southeast Retirement Planners.

In November 2018 a customer complained that Bice violated the securities laws by alleging that the financial advisor made unsuitable investments, overconcentration, misrepresentations, and failure to supervise causing $1,000,000 in damages.  The claim is currently pending.

In February 2018 a customer complained that Bice violated the securities laws by alleging that the financial advisor made unsuitable investments, overconcentration, misrepresentations, and failure to supervise causing $750,000 in damages.  The claim is currently pending.

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shutterstock_85873471-300x200According to BrokerCheck records financial advisor Michael Greenfield (Greenfield), currently employed by Newbridge Securities Corporation (Newbridge Securities) has been subject to at least six customer complaints and one bankruptcy cause during the course of his career.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Greenfield’s customer complaints allege that Greenfield recommended unsuitable securities recommendations in a variety of products including master limited partnerships (MLPs), municipal and corporate bonds, and other securities among other allegations of misconduct in the handling of customer accounts.

In January 2019 a customer filed a complaint alleging that Greenfield violated the securities laws by, among other things, that Greenfield was negligent and breached his fiduciary duty with respect to the purchase of MLPs.  MLPs are speculative oil and gas related investments that are linked to the oil markets.  The alleged damages are $200,000 and the claim is currently pending.

In July 2015 Greenfield declared bankruptcy.  Large tax liens or bankruptcy filings on a broker’s CRD can be a red flag that the broker may be influenced to engage in high commission activity in order to satisfy personal debts.  In addition, a broker’s inability to manage their own finances is relevant in a customer’s decision to use their services.

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shutterstock_62862913-259x300Several large brokerage houses have been offering their clients option-based trading strategies referred to as a Yield Enhancement Strategy (YES).  These firms include UBS Financial Services, Merrill Lynch, Credit Suisse, and Morgan Stanley.   According to marketing materials, the YES strategy seeks to increase returns for investors through the trading of options.  These options trading program employ various options trading strategies including the iron condor.

The yield enhancement strategies present substantial risks for investors that some advisors may not be fully disclosing.  Options are complicated by their very nature and most investors lack the knowledge and experience in options, margin, puts, calls necessary to understand the relative risk reward trade offs associated with yield enhancement strategies.  Despite these risks Wall Street firms continue to push these strategies because they generate fees and commissions for the firm while investors shoulder the risk.

First, the name itself is misleading because yield enhancement strategy sounds as if income is going to be generated.  However, writing options and generating premiums is not income.  Its compensation for the risk of the option being written.  One of the most popular YES strategies, the iron condor, can allow an investor to generate a larger net credit relative to downside risk.

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shutterstock_143094109-300x200According to BrokerCheck records financial advisor Peter Bakalis (Bakalis), currently employed by D.H. Hill Securities, LLLP (DH Hill Securities) has been subject to at least two customer complaints, one employment termination for cause, and one regulatory investigation.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Bakalis’ customer complaints allege that Bakalis failed to disclose a non-traded REIT merger and forged client signatures on paperwork.

In October 2018 Bakalis was terminated by his then employer Sigma Financial Corporation when the firm claimed that it has reason to believe that the representative forged, or instructed/caused others to forge, client signatures on account opening and account transfer paperwork.

Thereafter, in December 2018 the State of Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services opened an investigation claiming to have received a complaint on the appropriateness of annuity surrender/transfer for 3 different clients.

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shutterstock_188874428-300x200Advisor Alan Dole (Dole), currently employed by Cambridge Investment Research, Inc. (Cambridge) has been subject to at least two customer complaints.  According to a BrokerCheck report some of the customer complaints concern alternative investments and direct participation products (DPPs) such as non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs), oil & gas programs, annuities, and equipment leasing programs.  The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP have extensive experience handling investor losses caused by these types of products.

In December 2018 a customer filed a complaint alleging that Dole violated the securities laws including the Virginia Securities Act, breach of fiduciary duty, negligence, negligent supervision, breach of contract and violation of FINRA rules by recommending oil & gas and insurance related investments causing $348,366 in damages.  The claim is currently pending.

In December 2018 another customer filed a complaint alleging that Dole violated the securities laws including the Virginia Securities Act, breach of fiduciary duty, negligence, negligent supervision, breach of contract and violation of FINRA rules by recommending oil & gas and insurance related investments causing $497,691 in damages.  The claim is currently pending.

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shutterstock_130706948-300x199According to BrokerCheck records financial advisor Philip Rosensweig (Rosensweig), currently employed by WestPark Capital, Inc. (WestPark Capital) has been subject to at least ten customer complaints.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), most of Rosensweig’s customer complaints allege that Rosensweig made unsuitable recommendations in a variety of securities.

In March 2016 a customer brought a complaint against Rosensweig alleging the broker violated the securities laws by breaching his fiduciary duty, negligence, and fraud from 2015 through 2016.  The claim alleged $100,000 in damages and settled.

In March 2016 a customer brought a complaint against Rosensweig alleging the broker violated the securities laws by breaching his fiduciary duty, negligence, and fraud from 2014 through 2016.  The claim alleged $75,000 in damages and settled.

In October 2006 a customer brought a complaint against Rosensweig alleging the broker violated the securities laws by making unauthorized trades.  The claim alleged $10,000 in damages and settled.

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shutterstock_140186524-300x298According to BrokerCheck records financial advisor David Phillips (Phillips), formerly employed by Moloney Securities Co., Inc. (Moloney Securities) has been subject to one customer complaint and one tax lien during his career.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the complaint against Phillips concerns allegations of unsuitable investments in Future Income Payments, Inc. (FIP).

In October 2018 a customer complained that Phillips recommending an investment in Future Income Payments, Inc. that was misrepresented and improperly recommended.  The claim alleges $106,368 in damages and is currently pending.

The law offices of Gana Weinstein LLP have been investigating investor recovery options due to the alleged pay advance fraud scheme orchestrated by Future Income Payments, LLC (Future Income Payments) also known as Pensions, Annuities, and Settlements, LLC, and its owner Scott Kohn (Kohn). Future Income Payment is an unregistered and illegal security offering.  Numerous state and local regulators and agencies also have concluded that FIP product violates a host of laws including securities, loan laws, usury laws, elder abuse, and consumer protection laws.

At the heart of the alleged scheme is the misrepresentation that Future Income Payments engages in agreements that are sales of pensions and not loans. However, regulators have claimed that the company misstates the effect of the contract and that in fact pensioners are entering into a consumer loan and not a sale.  The purpose of the misrepresentations are to try to exempt Future Income Payments loans from consumer lending laws and regulations and to collect interest on loans at illegal rates.

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shutterstock_120115444-300x198According to BrokerCheck records financial advisor Paul Muran (Muran), currently employed by Thurston Spinger Financial (Thurston Spinger) has been subject to four customer complaints during his career.  In addition, Muran has been twice terminated for cause.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the complaints against Muran concern allegations of unsuitable investments and allegations of overconcentration involving equities, oil and gas, life settlement contracts, and structured products.

In March 2011, Muran was terminated by Merrill Lynch Pierce, Fenner and Smith, Inc. (Merrill Lynch) over allegations that he participated in an outside investment without the firm’s approval.  Thereafter, in October 2017 Muran was then terminated by UBS Financial Services, Inc. (UBS) on similar charges that Muran facilitated client purchases of life-settlement products not listed on firm platform, failing to escalate a client complaint, responding to the complaint without managerial approval, and failing to disclose a client’s subsequent investment in an outside passive investment.

In November 2018 a customer complained that Muran recommended investments that violated the securities laws by recommending a life settlement contract that was misrepresented and unsuitable. The client further alleges unauthorized trading of structured products and that the client had no idea she was borrowing from her loan account.  The customer alleges an unknown amount of damages but the claim is currently settled for $250,000.

In May 2018 a customer complained that Muran recommended investments that violated the securities laws including unsuitable investments, unauthorized credit line agreement, unauthorized trades, uninvested funds, and lost market opportunity. The customer claimed $183,000 in damages and is currently pending.

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