Articles Posted in Securities Attorney

shutterstock_120115444-300x198Current Berthel, Fisher & Company Financial Services, Inc. (Berthel Fisher) broker Jonathan Pyne (Pyne) has been subject to five customer complaints.  According to a BrokerCheck provided by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the primary regulator for securities broker dealers, many of the complaints concern alternative investments.  Alternative investments include a group of speculative securities such as non-traded real estate investment trusts (Non-Traded REITs), oil & gas programs, equipment leasing, and other direct participation programs.  Our firm has experience handling investor losses caused by these products.

In July 2017 a customer filed a complaint trying to redeem her investment and is alleging that she was misled by the representative into purchasing an investment that she didn’t know was illiquid.  The claim is currently pending.

In September 2016 another customer filed a complaint alleging that the investments she purchased in 2008 and 2009 were unsuitable and misrepresented to her by the representative.  The claim was settled for $48,175.

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shutterstock_143094109-300x200According to BrokerCheck records financial advisor James Lowther (Lowther), employed by Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated (Merrill Lynch), has been subject to two customer complaints.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Lowther has been accused by a customers of unsuitable investment advice concerning various investment products including energy stocks that likely include master limited partnerships (MLPs).  The law offices of Gana LLP continue to report on investor related losses and potential legal remedies due to recommendations to investor in oil and gas and commodities related investments.

The most recent claim was filed in August 2017 and alleges unauthorized trading, unsuitable investment recommendations, and misrepresentation and omission of material facts from November 2010 to July 2017.  The customer claimed $300,000 in damages and the claim is currently pending.

In July 2016 another customer alleged that Lowther engaged in unauthorized trading, unsuitable investment recommendations, failure to follow instructions, and misrepresentation and omission of material facts from January 2013 to July 2016.  The customer claims $1,000,000 in damages and the claim is currently pending.

Our firm handles claims and is also investigating securities claims against brokerage firms over sales practices related to the recommendations of oil & gas and commodities products such as exchange traded notes (ETNs), structured notes, private placements, master limited partnerships (MLPs), leveraged ETFs, mutual funds, and individual stocks.

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shutterstock_145368937-300x225According to BrokerCheck records financial advisor John Schneider (Schneider), formerly employed by PWA Securities, Inc. (PWA Securities), has been subject to five customer complaints and one regulatory action.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), in August 2017 a customer filed a complaint alleging that Schneider made unsuitable recommendations, over-concentration of accounts, and failed to supervise.  The claim is currently pending.

In June 2017 a customer claimed that after receiving a 50% return of principal on a real estate private placement investment the investment became worthless.

In July 2016 a customer alleged unauthorized trading, inadequate supervision, and unsuitable investments that took place from June of 2010 through May of 2016 causing $100,000 in damages.  The claim was settled for $60,000.

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shutterstock_61142644-300x225According to BrokerCheck records kept by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), broker Jeanette Adcock (Adcock) has been sanctioned for allegedly not complying with Illinois Securities Law.

Additionally, Adcock has been subject to three customer disputes in 2017. Moreover, In April 2017, Adcock was “permitted” to resign from Wayne Hummer Investments because she “failed to forward a written customer complaint to her supervisor or compliance department as required.”

In November 2017, a customer alleged that Adcock made misleading statements regarding a risky investment. The customer is requesting $25,000 in damages in this pending dispute.

In January 2017, a customer alleged Adcock misrepresented and recommended unsuitable products. This dispute settled for over $20,000.

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shutterstock_180968000-300x200According to BrokerCheck records financial advisor George Warner (Warner), currently associated with Chelsea Financial Services (Chelsea Financial), has been subject to one customer complaint, one regulatory action, and two terminations for cause.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), in June 2013, LPL Financial LLC (LPL Financial) terminated Warner for cause alleging that he obtained client signatures on black account transfer forms.  Thereafter, Warner was terminated from NFP Advisors Services (NFP Advisors) under similar circumstances.  NFP Adviosrs claimed in November 2014 that Warner corrected client documents after the client had signed them.

In April 2017, FINRA sanctioned Warner stated that Warner altered various customer documents on at least five occasions after the documents had already been signed by the customers. FINRA found that Warner corrected or included the customer’s anticipated liquidity needs, net worth, liquid net worth, and/or annual income on new account forms, alternative investment disclosure forms, and an IRA application.

Often times, brokers change client information or have clients sign documents in blank in order to use false information to purchase products that the client is otherwise not qualified to purchase.

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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.

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shutterstock_112866430-300x199Former Cetera Advisor Networks LLC (Cetera) broker Susan Welo (Welo) has been subject to nine customer complaints, one employment separation for cause, and one regulatory action.  According to a BrokerCheck report Welo was terminated by Cetera after the firm alleged that Welo failed to disclose to firm that Welo provided a loan to a client while at a prior broker-dealer. In addition, Cetera claimed that Welo violated firm policies by accepting blank signed forms from clients and permitting assistant to sign representative’s name to various documents.

In addition, the State of North Dakota alleged that Welo acted as an unregistered securities agent by handling client funds and make investment recommendations.

Many of the complaints concern alternative investments, private placements, and direct participation products (DPPs) such as non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs).  Our firm has experience handling investor losses caused by these products.

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shutterstock_185582-300x225According to the BrokerCheck records kept by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker James Dresselaers (Dresselaers) is under FINRA investigation and subject to one customer complaint.  Dresselaers is currently employed by H. Beck, Inc. (H. Beck).  The FINRA investigation is looking into potential violations of NASD Rules 2310 and 2110 or Rules 2111 and 2010 relating to the suitability of recommendations to purchase securities made to one customer.  In December 2015 a customer filed a complaint alleging Dresselaers that recommended unsuitable investments in exchange traded funds and equity securities.

A common problem with exchange traded funds is a subset of investments called leveraged exchanged traded funds (Non-Traditional ETFs).  As a background, Non-Traditional ETFs behave drastically different and have different risk qualities from traditional ETFs.  While traditional ETFs seek to mirror an index or benchmark, Non-Traditional ETFs use a combination of derivatives instruments and debt to multiply returns on underlining assets, often attempting to generate 2 to 3 times the return of the underlining asset class.  Non-Traditional ETFs are also used to earn the inverse result of the return of the benchmark.

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shutterstock_183011084-199x300According to BrokerCheck records Todd Ryman (Ryman), now associated with SunTrust Investment Services, Inc. (SunTrust), has been subject to six customer complaints and one regulatory action in his career.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Ryman has been accused by customers of unsuitable investment advice in a variety of securities including equities, private equity investment funds, and other types of investment vehicles.  Some customers have also alleged unauthorized trading, misrepresentations and failure to follow instructions, among other claims.

One customer complaint filed in November 2016 alleged an unsuitable investment in a private equity fund resulting in $250,000 in damages.  The claim was settled for $205,193.

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.

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shutterstock_103610648-300x212The investment fraud lawyers of Gana LLP are examining multiple customer disputes filed with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against broker David Silberg (Silberg). According to BrokerCheck, Silberg has a multitude of disclosures concerning: churning, excessive trading, unauthorized trading, unsuitability, and breach of fiduciary duty. His BrokerCheck records also show 2 disclosures concerning an employment separation after allegations.

The most recent customer complaint filed against Silberg occured in August 2016. The customer alleged that Silberg made unsuitable recommendations to the client’s account. Additionally, the broker allegedly misrepresented and omitted material facts regarding an investment in a corporate debt security. The alleged damages were worth $100,000 and the case was settled for $29,750.00.

In November 2009, another customer complaint was filed against Silberg alleging that during his employment at Gunnallen Financial, the broker failed to supervise, engaged in unauthorized trading, and made unsuitable investments to their account. The alleged damages were worth $375,000 and the case was settled for $50,000.

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