Our investment attorneys are investigating customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against Michael Spears (Spears) currently associated with IMS Securities, Inc. alleging negligence, failure to supervise, misrepresentation, breach of fiduciary duty among other claims. According to BrokerCheck records Spears has been subject to two customer complaints involving direct participation products (DPPs) such as non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs), and other alternative investments.
The most recent claim was filed in August 2016 and alleges that, while Spears was employed at IMS Securities, acted negligently, misrepresented material facts, failed to supervise, and breached his fiduciary duty in connection to non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs) causing damages of $1,667,000. The claim is currently pending.
In July 2016, a customer filed a complaint alleging that Spears breached his fiduciary duty, over-concentrated investments, and failed to supervise in correlation to real estate products and variable annuity investments causing $3,000,000 in damages. The claim is currently pending.
Our firm has represented many clients in illiquid alternative investments products. All of these investments come with high costs and have historically underperformed even safe benchmarks, like U.S. treasury bonds. For example, products like oil and gas partnerships, REITs, and other alternative investments are only appropriate for a narrow band of investors under certain conditions due to the high costs, illiquidity, and huge redemption charges of the products, if they can be redeemed at all. However, due to the high commissions brokers earn on these products they sell them to investors who cannot profit from them and have created a large market for a failed product. Further, investor often fail to understand that they have lost money in these illiquid investments until many years after investing. In sum, for all of their costs and risks, investors in these programs are in no way additionally compensated for the loss of liquidity, risks, or cost.
Spears entered the securities industry in 2002. Since May 2002 Spears has been associated with IMS Securities, Inc. out of the firm’s Houston, Texas office location.
The number of events listed on Spears brokercheck is high relative to her peers. According to InvestmentNews, only about 12% of financial advisors have any type of disclosure event on their records. Brokers must publicly disclose certain types of reportable events on their CRD including but not limited to customer complaints. In addition to disclosing client disputes brokers must divulge IRS tax liens, judgments, and criminal matters. However, FINRA’s records are not always complete according to a Wall Street Journal story that checked with 26 state regulators and found that at least 38,400 brokers had regulatory or financial red flags such as a personal bankruptcy that showed up in state records but not on BrokerCheck. More disturbing is the fact that 19,000 out of those 38,400 brokers had spotless BrokerCheck records.
Gana Weinstein LLP’s securities fraud attorneys represent investors who have suffered securities losses due to the mishandling of their accounts due to claims of fraud and negligence. The majority of these claims may be brought in securities arbitration before FINRA. Our consultations are free of charge and the firm is only compensated if you recover.