Articles Posted in Securities Fraud

shutterstock_21147109-300x234The investment fraud attorneys are currently investigating USA Financial Securities Corporation (USA Financial) broker Bradley Ford (Ford). According to BrokerCheck Records held by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Ford has been subject to eight customer disputes and three regulatory disputes. The majority of these disputes concern the misrepresentation of investments and documents to customers.

Most recently, in April 2018, a customer alleged from August 2013 to November 2016, Ford misrepresented that liquidity and penalty charges of fixed indexed annuities.

In June 2015, a customer alleged that Ford forged the customer’s signature on a strategy request form.

In March 2012, a customer alleged the insurance life policy that Ford recommended and placed the customer in was falsely represented. The case was settled at $450,000 in damages.

Ford has also been subject to various regulatory actions. In June 2009, the Kentucky Department of Insurance found that Ford misrepresented documents to customers by changing the state in which customers had signed their insurance contracts. The Kentucky Department of Insurance imposed a monetary penalty for the false representation.

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shutterstock_128655458-300x200According to BrokerCheck records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Woodstock Financial Group, Inc. (Woodstock Financial) broker Joseph Derrico (Derrico) has been subject to two disclosed customer complaints, one regulatory complaint, and one criminal matter.  The regulatory action filed by the State of Montana alleges that a customer filled out an online complaint with the state making allegations concerning Derrico.  Montana filed a complaint against the broker concerning unauthorized trading; excessive trading; using discretion without written discretionary authority; fraud – these allegations are associated with claims of churning or excessive trading.  The regulatory complaint is still pending.

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shutterstock_188141822-300x200The securities attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are currently investigating Cetera Advisor Networks LLC (Cetera Advisor) broker Jaret Mutter (Mutter). According to BrokerCheck Records, Mutter is currently subject to a pending regulatory matter in which the Virginia State Corporation Commission (VSCC) has sanctioned Mutter for the violation of various securities laws. Mutter has also been subject to seven customer disputes, one of which is still pending.  The majority of these disputes concern the misrepresentation and unsuitable recommendation of investments in Unit Investment Trusts (UITs).

In April 2018, VSCC placed a Special Supervision Order on Mutter due to numerous disclosures and complaints from customers at Cetera Advisor, Mutter’s firm of employment. Consequently, Mutter has been placed under special supervision for a year.

In addition, Mutter has been subject to multiple customer disputes. Most recently, in May 2015, a customer alleged that Mutter misrepresented investments to the customer and placed the customer in investments that were unsuitable to their investment portfolio and objectives. The customer was awarded $50,310 in damages.

shutterstock_145368937-300x225According to BrokerCheck records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) advisor Howard Utz (Utz), formerly associated with Hazard & Siegel, Inc. (Hazard & Siegel) in Mars, Pennsylvania was terminated by his firm concerning allegations that Utz’s failed to report outside business activities, engaged in private securities transactions, and accepted checks from clients made personally payable to Utz and subsequent conversion to personal use.

In addition, in May 2018 the Federal Bureau of Investigation opened an investigation into Utz but have not disclosed any details of the investigation.  Similarly, in January 2018 the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) opened an investigation into Utz’s activities but again there are no disclosures concerning the nature of the investigation.

At this time, the selling away claims against Utz are unclear as to the exact nature and extent of the activity.  Utz has outside business disclosures including Noble and Utz Enterprises – a rental property business.  In addition, Utz discloses Utz Financial Services – his investment d/b/a among other disclosures.

shutterstock_71403175-300x225The security fraud attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are currently investigating Westpark Capital, Inc. (Westpark Capital) broker Patrick Maddren (Maddren). According to BrokerCheck records, Maddren has been subject to two customer disputes involving various forms of security fraud.

In March 2016, a customer alleged that Maddren engaged in a wide range of security fraud, including false representations, excessive trading, unauthorized trading, unsuitable recommendations, and breach of contract. The dispute was settled for $295,000.

In May 2012, a customer alleged that in February 2012, Maddren executed unauthorized trades in the account. The customer requested $62,530 in damages.

shutterstock_176283941-300x200The securities attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are currently investigating Joseph Stone Capital L.L.C. (Joseph Stone) broker Laurence Pettit (Pettit). According to BrokerCheck records, Pettit has been subject to 10 customer disputes, two civil actions, and one criminal action. The majority of these disputes allege Pettit’s  improper use of discretion, unauthorized trading, improper use of margin, and failure to follow customer instructions.

In March 2009, a customer alleged that Pettit failed to follow instructions to liquidate the investments in the customers’ account on multiple occasions. The dispute was settled at $250,000.

In October 2008, a customer alleged that Pettit failed to follow the customer’s instructions to reduce the margin percentage on the account. This dispute was settled at $40,000.

shutterstock_183525509-300x200According to BrokerCheck records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) advisor Hector May (May), formerly associated with Securities America, Inc. (Securities America) in New York, New York is under criminal investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) for investment fraud.  At the same time, May was terminated by Securities America on concerns that the advisor misappropriated client assets.

Investors who have come forward concerning May’s fraud claim that he sold what now appear to be fake tax-free corporate bonds.  It is doubtful that these investments ever existed.  Instead, the allegations claim that May most likely pocketed client funds and paid other clients funds with the proceeds from other investors – a classic Ponzi-scheme.  As with all Ponzi schemes this one collapsed when May could not make promised payments.

It appears that May conducted his alleged scheme through a disclosed outside business activity called Executive Compensation Planners, Inc.  May may have used this company to handle client investments and distribute fake returns to investors.  Outside business activities such as Executive Compensation Planners should have caused concern at May’s brokerage firm because these separate corporate entities are frequently used by unscrupulous advisors to conceal and commit frauds.  According to news sources, Executive Compensation Planners’ website in 2016 stated the firm was registered to sell securities and insurance but has since been taken down.  Further, May disclosed to clients in a brochure from Executive Compensation Planners that the firm handled more than $18 million in assets.

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.

shutterstock_188874428-300x200The investment attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating a customer complaint brought against former RBC Capital Broker Martin Olson.  According to BrokerCheck Records kept by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Olson was subject to a customer complaint in December 2016.

In December 2016, Olson was named in a customer complaint that asserted breach of fiduciary duty, violation of the Michigan Securities Act and fraud. Olson was found jointly and severally liable and the customer was awarded $250,000 in damages.

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.

shutterstock_89758564-300x200Current Geneos Wealth Management, Inc. (Geneos Wealth) broker Kenneth Ancell (Ancell) has been subject to two customer complaints.  According to a BrokerCheck report 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.

In June 2017 customers filed a complaint alleging that in or around 2011, Ancell made unsuitable investment recommendations in REITs and alternative investments causing $744,038 in damages.  The claim is currently pending.

Our firm often handles cases involving direct participation products, private placements, Non-Traded REITs, oil and gas offerings, equipement leasing products, and other alternative investments.  These products are almost always unsuitable for middle class investors.  In addition, the brokers who sell them are paid additional commission in order to hype inferior quality investments providing perverse incentives for brokers to sell high risk and low reward investments.