The law offices of Gana Weinstein LLP are currently investigating claims that advisor James Couture (Couture) has converted customer funds among other allegations. According to BrokerCheck records, Schmidt is formerly registered with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) member firm LPL Financial LLC (LPL Financial) out of the firm’s Worcester, Massachusetts office location. In addition, Couture disclosed two customer complaints, one employment terminations for cause, and two regulatory actions. If you have been a victim of Couture’s alleged misconduct our firm may be able to assist you in recovering funds.
In June 2020 LPL Financial terminated Couture alleging that he had altered identifying information, account balances and distributions in customer account statement, maintained comingled customer funds, use of an unapproved email address. Thereafter, FINRA investigated these claims but Couture refused to comply with the agency’s requests.
In June 2021 the SEC alleged that Couture violated his fiduciary duty to his clients by engaging in a deceptive scheme to misappropriate approximately $2.9 million from them. According to the SEC, Couture fraudulently prompted his clients to sell portions of their securities holdings in order to fund large money transfers to an entity that he owned and controlled. The SEC alleges that once Couture used the fraudulently obtained authorizations to secure the sale of client securities and transfers of the proceeds to his exclusive control, Couture then spnt the money for his own benefit. Couture went so far as to lull clients into believing that their sale proceeds had been actually reinvested by providing them with fabricated account systems and account holding reviews. The SEC found that the fabricated statements contained securities transactions that never happened, investments that did not exist, and earnings that the clients never received for the purposes of creating the false appearance that Couture had reinvested his clients’ money.
Our law firm has significant experience bringing cases on behalf of defrauded victims when their advisors engage in conversion of funds or selling securities sales through OBAs. The sale of unapproved investment products – is a practice known in the industry as “selling away” – a serious violation of the securities laws. In the industry the term selling away refers to when a financial advisor solicits investments in companies, promissory notes, or other securities that are not pre-approved by the broker’s affiliated firm. Sometimes those investments have some legitimacy but often times these types of investments can end up being Ponzi schemes or the advisor can be engaging in the conversion of funds.
However, federal securities laws and the FINRA rules require firms to monitor and supervise its employees in order to detect and prevent brokers from offering investments in this fashion. In order to properly supervise their brokers each firm is required to have procedures in order to monitor the activities of each advisor’s activities and interaction with the public. Selling away misconduct often occurs where brokerage firms either fail to put in place a reasonable supervisory system or fail to actually implement that system. Supervisory failures allow brokers to engage in unsupervised misconduct that can include all manner improper conduct including selling away.
In cases of selling away the investor is unaware that the advisor’s investments are improper. In many of these cases the investor will not learn that the broker’s activities were wrongful until after the investment scheme is publicized, the broker is fired or charged by law enforcement, or stops returning client calls altogether.
Couture entered the securities industry in 2001. From February 2009 until July 2020 Couture was registered with LPL Financial out of the firm’s Worcester, Massachusetts office location.
Investors who have suffered losses are encouraged to contact us at (800) 810-4262 for consultation. Investors may be able recover their losses through securities arbitration. The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are experienced in representing investors in cases of selling away and brokerage firms failure to supervise their representatives. Our consultations are free of charge and the firm is only compensated if you recover.