Articles Posted in Securities Fraud

shutterstock_143179897-300x300According to BrokerCheck records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) advisor Dean Grant (Grant), formerly associated with M Holdings Securities, Inc. (M Holdings), and operating under the d/b/a name Dean Grant Financial and GFG Strategic Advisors was arrested in February 2019 on charges of fraud.  Grant’s company purportedly offers financial and estate planning, life insurance, retirement planning, charitable giving, disability and long-term care.  In addition, Grant has three tax liens totaling approximately $150,000.

Grant purportedly turned himself in after an investigation by the Georgia Insurance Commissioner’s Office showed he used nearly $600,000 from at least three clients for his personal gain.  Yet, Grant apparently did not obtain any insurance investments with the money.  Grant was charged with three counts of insurance fraud, three counts of theft by taking, one count of forgery and two counts of trafficking of an elder person. Authorities claim that clients made checks made out to Dean Grant Financial and then he made checks made out to Dean Grant himself taking the money.

The providing of loans or selling of notes and other investments outside of a brokerage firm constitutes impermissible private securities transactions – a practice known in the industry as “selling away”.

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According to BrokerCheck records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) advisor Dudley Stephens (Stephens), formerly associated with Coastal Equities, Inc. (Coastal Equities), in September 2018, was sanshutterstock_99315272-300x300ctioned and barred from the securities industry by FINRA due to failures to provide documents and information requested by the regulator.  In addition, Stephens has three customer complaints, one termination, and one additional regulatory complaint.

In July 2018 Stephens was terminated by Coastal Equities on grounds that he was being reviewed over suspicious letters of authorization for third party wires.  Thereafter, FINRA barred Stephens.

In December 2018 a customer filed a complaint alleging that excessive and unauthorized commissions were charged of approximately $50,000 per year for 2.5 years in her advisory account. The client also alleged that $100,000 was invested in an unauthorized private securities transaction was a sham.  The claim alleges $250,000 in damages and is currently pending.

The providing of loans or selling of notes and other investments outside of a brokerage firm constitutes impermissible private securities transactions – a practice known in the industry as “selling away”.

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shutterstock_94127350-300x205According to BrokerCheck records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker James Schwartz (Schwartz) has been subject to nine customer complaints, one tax lien, and one bankruptcy during his career.  Schwartz is currently not registered but was previously employed by Joseph Gannar & Co. LLC (Joseph Gunnar).  Many of the the customer complaints against Schwartz concern allegations of high frequency trading activity also referred to as churning and unsuitable investments.

In October 2018 a customer filed a complaint alleging that Schwartz violated the securities laws by engaging in breach of fiduciary duty, unsuitable investments, and negligence causing $32,871.30 in damages.  The claim is currently pending.

In May 2018 a customer filed a complaint alleging that Schwartz violated the securities laws by engaging in churning, unsuitable investments, unauthorized trading, and breach of fiduciary duty causing $150,000 in damages. The claim is currently pending.

In February 2018 a customer filed a complaint alleging that Schwartz violated the securities laws by engaging in unsuitable investments and unauthorized trading causing $1,694,099 in damages. The claim is currently pending.

In addition, Schwartz has one financial disclosure concerning a tax lien for $15,667 and declared bankruptcy in June 2017.  This information has been found to be material for investors to have because an advisor who cannot manage his own finances is a relevant factor for investors to consider.  In addition, a broker in financial distress may be influenced to recommend high commission products or strategies.

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shutterstock_188269637-300x200According to BrokerCheck records former financial advisor Brandon Stimpson (Stimpson), formerly employed by Allegis Investment Services, LLC (Allegis Investment) has been subject to at least eight customer complaints.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), many of the complaints against Stimpson concern allegations of unsuitable investments in a put options trading strategy.

In December 2017 Stimpson was terminated by Allegis Investment after the firm claimed that Stimpson failed to follow firm policies and code of ethics.  Prior to his termination, Stimpson was subject to multiple complaints.

In October 2017 a customer complained that Stimpson engaged in unsuitable investments in an options strategy that was active in the account was unsuitable and a trade in Aug 2015 caused the account losses.  The customer alleged $300,000 in damages and the claim is currently pending.

In June 2016 a customer complained that Stimpson engaged in unsuitable investments in an options strategy and a trade in Aug 2015 caused the account losses.  The customer alleged $400,000 in damages and the claim is currently pending.

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shutterstock_128856874-300x200According to BrokerCheck records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) former advisor Larry Templin (Templin), formerly associated with Centaurus Financial, Inc. (Centaurus) in Temple, Texas was terminated by his firm.  In May 2018, Templin was terminated on allegations of bank fraud.

At this time it is unclear the nature or scope of the alleged OBAs and/or private securities transactions that Templin may have been involved in leading to the termination.  Templin’s disclosures state a number of OBAs including Matthews, Ludwick, Templin & Montgomery PC which is disclosed as an accounting business.  In addition, Structured Associates of Texas is listed as an annuity business.  Flagstone Advisors is listed as an insurance business.  Also 1949 Scott LLC is listed as a commercial real estate business.

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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.