Articles Posted in Securities Fraud

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.

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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.

In addition, Maddren has been subject to two tax liens. In June 2012, Maddren incurred a tax lien of $75,630. In June 2012, Maddren incurred a tax lien of $225,256.80.   Continue Reading

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.

In September 2008, a customer alleged that in 2007, Pettit misrepresented the material facts of Mad River Fund LP, a hedge fund investment.

In addition, Pettit was subject to two liens. In October 2015, Pettit was subject to a civil lien of $73,008. In February 2011, Pettit was subject to a civil lien $105,207.74. Large liens are potential signs that a broker is struggling to manage their finances. FINRA provides this information to the public because it is material for consumers to know whether or not their advisor’s financial situation influences the advisor’s recommendations. Continue Reading

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.

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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.

First, the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (15 U.S.C. § 78a et seq.) and Rule 10b-5 protect investors against deceptive and manipulative acts in the purchase or sale of securities. This sweeping legislation is the cornerstone of federal securities laws. Rule 10b-5 makes it unlawful to employ a device or scheme to defraud, to make any untrue statement of material fact or omit to state a material fact not misleading, or to engage in any practice that would operate as a fraud.

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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.

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shutterstock_143685652-300x300The securities attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating potential claims against former Capital Securities Management Inc. broker Teryl Trenchard (Trenchard). According to Trenchard’s BrokerCheck records, he was identified in a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) investigation on March 10, 2017. FINRA is examining alleged fraudulent activities of Trenchard.

Trenchard was terminated by Capital Securities Management on March 10, 2017 based upon the FINRA investigation for fraud.

In a pending customer complaint, it has been alleged that Trenchard engaged in misappropriation, forgery, fraud and unauthorized trading in unsuitable transactions between 2005 and 2017. The alleged damages are $1,800,000.

In another pending complaint, a customer is alleging breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract, conversion, and unsuitable investment recommendations. The customer is alleging damages of $700,000.

In 2000, a customer alleged that Trenchard made several unauthorized trades in her account. This complaint settled for $28,049.49.

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shutterstock_160304408-300x199The investment lawyers of Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating the regulatory action brought by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against Broker Tommy Mai (Mai).

According to Mai’s Brokercheck records, he has been sanctioned by FINRA because he allegedly “forged or caused to be forged customers’ signatures on various types of customer account documents including his member firm’s new account forms and non-firm insurance applications. In total, 53 customer account forms were forged, altered, or otherwise improperly signed (i.e., signed when partially completed or blank). The findings also stated that Mai paid to air a television program, on two Los Angeles Vietnamese-language television stations, appeared in every episode of the program and discussed a range of insurance and investment-related topics, without obtaining prior approval from the firm or FINRA prior to airing the program. In addition, the content of the program was, at times, misleading, promissory, and/or unbalanced.” Mai was suspended from FINRA for four months and fined $10,000.

The term “securities fraud” relates to inappropriate and illegal activities. Principally, it relates to investor deception and market maipulation. Fraud can sometimes include the unauthorized trading, false or misleading representations and of course, Ponzi schemes. Many laws protect investors.

shutterstock_94632238-300x214The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently filed a complaint against former Gradient Securities, LLC (Gradient) and Cambridge Investment Research, Inc. (Cambridge) broker Terry Bahgat (Bahgat) working out of the Amherst, New York.  The SEC alleged that from December 2014 through September 2016, Bahgat misappropriated funds seven different clients by obtaining access to their brokerage accounts and then transferring either to himself or WealthCFO – a company that Bahgat controlled.  Bahgat operated his advisory business through WealthCFO Advisors, LLC and other firm WealthCFO Partners, LLC.

According to the SEC, in order to effectuate the fraud in some cases Bahgat had his assistant pose as his clients on telephone calls with the brokerage firms in order to obtain bill paying privileges.  The SEC alleged that Bahgat’s scheme continued until September 2016 when he then fled the U.S. for Egypt.  The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) also barred Bahgat from the securities industry after he failed to respond to a request for information in January.  The FINRA investigation involved a different questionable practice – whether Bahgat made misrepresentations in the sale of a variable annuity.

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