Articles Posted in Securities Arbitration

shutterstock_102217105-300x200Advisor Conrad Corcoran (Corcoran), currently employed by brokerage firm Centaurus Financial, Inc. has been subject to at least four customer complaints during the course of his career.  According to a BrokerCheck report the two most recent customer complaints filed in 2020 concern alternative investments such as direct participation products (DPPs) like business development companies (BDCs), non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs), oil & gas programs, annuities, and private placements.  The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP have represented hundreds of investors who suffered losses caused by these types of high risk, low reward products.

In July 2020 a customer complained that Corcoran violated the securities laws by alleging that Corcoran made investments where the documentation for their investments contained incorrect personal information and that certain initials/signatures were not theirs. The claim involves a real estate security, alleged damages, and is currently pending.

DDPs include products such as non-traded REITs, oil and gas offerings, equipment leasing products, and other alternative investments.  These alternative investments virtually never profit investors and are almost always unsuitable for investors because of their high fee and cost structure.  Brokers selling these products are paid additional commission in order to hype these inferior quality investments providing a perverse incentives to create an artificial market for the investments.

Several studies have confirmed that Non-traded REITs underperform publicly traded REITs with some showing that Non-Traded REITs cannot even beat safe benchmarks, like U.S. treasury bonds.  Brokers selling these products must disclose to the investor that non-traded REITs provide lower investment returns than treasuries while being high risk and illiquid – but almost never do.  Because investors are not compensated with additional return in exchange for higher risk and illiquidity, these kinds of alternative investment products are rarely, if ever, appropriate for investors.  Continue Reading

shutterstock_171721244-300x200The law offices of Gana Weinstein LLP are currently investigating claims that advisor Peter Ianace (Ianace) has been accused by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) of engaging in undisclosed outside business activities (OBAs).  According to records kept by FINRA Ianace was employed by Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC (Wells Fargo) and Merrill Lynch Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated (Merrill Lynch) through June 2020 when he abruptly resigned when he refused to cooperate in FINRA’s investigation over these allegations.  If you have been a victim of Ianace’s alleged misconduct our firm may be able to assist you in recovering funds.

According to FINRA, the regulatory barred Ianace after he consented to the sanction that he refused to provide documents and information requested by FINRA in connection with its investigation into his potential failure to disclose outside business activities (OBAs) to his member firm.

Ianace’s BrokerCheck also reveals four customer complaints.  The most recent allegation in January 2021 alleges unsuitable investment recommendations and misrepresentations from February 2013 until December 2019 and claims $18 million in damages.  The claim is currently pending.

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shutterstock_184430612-300x225Broker Audrey Croft (Croft), currently employed at Ameriprise Financial Services, LLC (Ameriprise), has been subject to at least three customer complaints and an astonishing ten tax liens during the course of her career. Her customer complaints allege misrepresentation and unsuitable recommendation.

Croft’s BrokerCheck report shows a substantial amount of disclosures (13). Over the course of her career, Croft has disclosed ten tax liens totaling approximately $80,000.00. Most recently, Croft disclosed two tax liens in April and October 2019 totaling approximately $600.00. In February 2012, Croft disclosed her largest tax lien totaling approximately $64,000.00. Large tax liens 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.  FINRA discloses information concerning a broker’s financial condition because a broker’s inability to handle their own personal finances has also been found to be material information in helping investors determine if they should allow the broker to handle their finances.

Additionally, Croft has been alleged of making misrepresentations and unsuitable recommendations. In January 2019, a customer alleged Croft misrepresented the surrender charges and premium payments of an insurance policy. Additionally, in February 2009 a customer alleged Croft did not disclose the full details of a policy. The Broker Comment stated, “THE VUL POLICIES DID NOT APPEAR TO BE SUITABLE FOR THE CLIENTS’ INSURANCE NEEDS OR ABILITY TO SUSTAIN LARGE PAYMENTS AND THEY DID NOT APPEAR TO HAVE UNDERSTOOD THERE COULD BE SURRENDER CHARGES OR THE POLICIES COULD LAPSE.” This matter settled for approximately $37,000.00. Similarly, in September 2008, a customer alleged Croft of making unsuitable recommendations. This matter also settled in favor of the customer for approximately $44,000.00.

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shutterstock_191231699-300x200Advisor and broker Ralph Byer (Byer), currently employed by Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Inc. (Merrill Lynch), has a substantial complaint history. Byer has been subject to at least seven customer complaints during the course of his career. According to a BrokerCheck report, the majority of his customer complaints (four out of seven) concern unsuitable investment recommendations.

In June 2018, a customer alleged Byer engaged making unsuitable investment recommendations and excessive trading from 1990 until 2018. Ultimately this matter settled for $565,000.00. Additionally, from 2001 through 2009, three other known customer complaints were brought against Byer for making unsuitable investments. Moreover, in 1999, a customer alleged Byer engaged in churning. That matter ultimately settled in favor of the client for $22,500.00.

Advisors have an obligation to make only suitable recommendations for investments to the client.  There are many investments that are not appropriate for the majority of investors or for certain investors given their risk tolerance, age, and other factors.  Advisors should not present these investment options to clients.  There are two screens that advisors must employ to determine whether an investment is suitable for a client.  First, there must be a reasonable basis for the recommendation – meaning that the product has been investigated and due diligence conducted into the investment’s features, benefits, risks, and other relevant factors.  The advisor must conclude that the investment is suitable for at least some investors and some securities may be suitable for no one.  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.

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shutterstock_173864537-300x200The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating BrokerCheck records reports that financial advisor Robert Brinckerhoff (Brinckerhoff), currently employed by Morgan Stanley has been subject to at least five customer complaints and five regulatory actions during the course of his career.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Brinckerhoff’s customer complaints alleges that Brinckerhoff recommended unsuitable investments in various investments such structured products among other allegations of misconduct relating to the handling of their accounts.

The law offices of Gana Weinstein LLP are currently representing investors who were surprised to find out that the “bonds” that were recommended by their advisors have almost completely stopped paying interest while plummeting in value.  What many investors in this situation did not realize was that they were not sold bonds at all but instead complex structured products that go by a variety of names including steepener notes, adjustable rate market notes, spread linked notes, or structured notes.  Regulators have already stated that it is improper to sell these investments as a fixed income substitute or to compare them to bonds in terms of producing a revenue stream.  However, in our firm’s experience it appears that many brokers have been selling structured products as bond alternatives.

Structured products range in risk from benign to extreme.  However, most structured products produce inferior risk/return profiles than ordinary debt or equity instruments because the brokerage firms that issue these products seek to profit from the spread between the payment to investors and the amount of money the brokerage firm can make from the issuance.  When dealing with complex structured products most investors will lack the ability to understand the merits of investments nor are they appropriate for investors seeking a fixed or reliable income and have a desire for preservation of capital.

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shutterstock_88744093-297x300The securities lawyers of Gana Weinstein LLP are currently investigating customer complaints against broker John Boatright (Boatright), formerly associated with Newbridge Securities Corporation (Newbridge Securities) out of Duluth, Georgia.  According to a BrokerCheck report, Boatright has been subject to at least three customer disputes and one large tax lien during his career.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Boatright’s recent customer complaints concern allegations of unsuitable investment recommendations.

In May 2018 a customer alleged that Boatright made unsuitable recommendations and provided negligent investment advice.  The customer requested $46,000 in damages.  This dispute is still pending.

In May 2018 Boatright disclosed a $22,813 tax lien against him.  Large tax liens 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.  FINRA discloses information concerning a broker’s financial condition because a broker’s inability to handle their own personal finances has also been found to be material information in helping investors determine if they should allow the broker to handle their finances.

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shutterstock_188141822-300x200The securities attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are currently investigating advisor Mark Upchurch (Upchurch), currently associated with Centaurus Financial, Inc. (Centaurus Financial) out of Houston, Texas.  According to a BrokerCheck report, Upchurch has been subject to at least three customer disputes, one regulatory action, and one termination for cause during his career.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the customer complaints against Upchurch concern allegations of unsuitable investment recommendations and misrepresentations.

In April 2018 a customer alleged that Upchurch made unsuitable investment recommendations and misrepresentations causing over $5,000 in damages.  The claim settled for $17,500.

In October 2006 FINRA found that Upchurch violated NASD Rule 2110 by signing a customer’s name to an account transfer form without the customer’s permission.  Without admitting or denying the allegations, Upchurch consented to the described sanctions and to the entry of the findings.  Upchurch was fined $5,000 and suspended for 30 days.

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shutterstock_189302954-300x203The securities attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are currently investigating Securities America, Inc. (Securities America) broker Randy Schneider (Schneider). According to BrokerCheck Records kept by the Financial Industry Regulative Authority (FINRA), Schneider has been subject to nine customer disputes. The majority of these customer disputes revolve around the unsuitable recommendation of alternative investments, annuities and REITs.

Most recently, in February 2015, a customer alleged that Schneider stole and misappropriated funds in the customer account and also misrepresented the nature of the AXA annuities by providing misleading information. The customer requested $160,000 in damages.

In June 2013, a customer alleged that from November 2007 to June 2008, Schneider misrepresented the nature of certain alternative investments that were unsuitable for the customer. The case was settled at $250,000.

In September 2011, a customer alleged that Schneider unsuitably recommended an alternative investment and misrepresented the facts of the investment. This dispute was settled at $38,750.

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shutterstock_7947664-300x200Investment attorneys with our offices are currently investigating previously registered broker Matthew Singer (Singer). According to BrokerCheck Records,  in March 2018, Singer was barred from the financial industry for failing to appear at an on-the-record testimony concerning allegations that he was recommending unsuitable investments to customers while employed at Morgan Stanley.  According to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Singer consented to the sanction and bar due to the fact that he refused to appear to the testimony.   For failing to appear for testimony, Singer was in violation of FINRA Rules 8210 and 2010 and automatically barred.

In addition, Singer has been subject to multiple customer complaints. In December 2016, a customer alleged that from May 2015, to January 2016, Singer misrepresented investments and executed unauthorized trades in the customer account regarding option investments. The case was settled at $60,000.

In February 2016, a customer alleged that Singer recommended unsuitable options to the customer.  The customer requested $381,929 in damages.  In October 2015, a customer alleged that from June 2015, Singer recommended highly risky and unsuitable investments to the customer.

Gana Weinstein LLP represented 19 Claimants in a FINRA arbitration against Anthony Diaz. A panel of arbitrators awarded the Claimants over $4 million. The case was picked up by major publications including the Washington Post and InvestmentNews. Adam Gana, managing partner of Gana Weinstein LLP said his clients “gave their life savings to [Diaz], and he was just a predator who was looking out for his own best interest and not the best interest at my clients.” Gana said he will go after Diaz’s assets and earnings in an attempt to recover the judgment. “We will fight tooth and nail to get these people their money,” he said. “This is not money that our clients can afford to lose.”

Gana Weinstein LLP is a full service law firm that specialized in Securities Arbitration. The firm tenaciously defends investors and aggressively pursues brokerage firms for misconduct.

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