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shutterstock_172399811-297x300The law offices of Gana Weinstein LLP are currently investigating claims that advisor Michael Shillin (Shillin) has been accused by numerous clients of engaging in fraudulent investment activities including undisclosed outside business activities (OBAs) and private securities transactions.  According to records kept by FINRA Shillin was employed by Alliance Global Partners at the time of the activity.  If you have been a victim of Shillin’s alleged misconduct our firm may be able to assist you in recovering funds.

As reported by WEAU News, Shillin has been barred from working in the brokerage industry. FINRA has disclosed that Shillin refused to respond to the claims and complaints made against him. “In one of two new complaints, one count alleges that Shillin claimed to have purchased 20-thousand dollars in Space-X shares, but withdrew 25-thousand from their account. Another client writes that Shillin falsified documents to cover up a non-existent life insurance policy. This person wrote a check for nearly 30-thousand dollars for the policy.”

One of dozens of complaints filed relating to Shillin states “Each claimant alleges one or more of the following: that former FA misrepresented that he bought securities in claimants’ accounts when he did not actually buy them and presented claimants with documents that led them to believe the securities had been bought; represented that a claimant could obtain long-term care benefits under a rider to the claimant-spouse’s long-term care policy but never submitted the paperwork; failed to inform claimants that there were limits on penalty-free withdrawals from 401k accounts that had been rolled into an IRA; incorrectly represented to claimants they could withdraw from their IRAs when the withdrawals were prohibited transactions, and he prepared falsified accounting documents; improperly advised claimants they were eligible for a benefit under the Affordable Care Act and prepared a falsified Form 1099 reflecting a lower income; incorrectly advised claimants that investments in pre-IPO stocks would provide certain tax benefits, provided figures to include in tax returns, and represented that he would file the tax returns and forward payment to the IRS for claimants but failed to do so; incorrectly advised claimants on how much they could withdraw from their accounts to live on; and/or incorrectly advised claimants they could retire based on the purported performance of their portfolios.”

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shutterstock_145368937-300x225The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating BrokerCheck records reports that Financial Advisor Mark Jones (Jones), currently employed by Merrill Lynch, has been subject to at least nine customer complaints during the course of his career. According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Jones’ customer complaints alleges that Jones recommended unsuitable investments in various investments, among other allegations of misconduct relating to the handling of their accounts.

In May 2019, a customer complained that Jones violated the securities laws by alleging that Jones engaged in material misrepresentations. The claim settled in the amount of $70,026.

In February 2014, a customer complained that Jones violated the securities laws by alleging that Jones engaged in unsuitable investment advice, and material misrepresentations. The claim settled in the amount of $26,250.

In April 2002, a customer complained that Jones violated the securities laws by alleging that Jones engaged in unsuitable investment advice. $400,000 in damages were granted.

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shutterstock_128856874-300x200The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating BrokerCheck records reports that Financial Advisor Eladio Santiago (Santiago), currently employed by Cambridge Investment Research, Inc. (Cambridge), has been subject to at least three customer complaints during the course of his career.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Santiago’s customer complaints alleges that Santiago recommended unsuitable investments in various investments, among other allegations of misconduct relating to the handling of their accounts.

In February 2020, a customer complained that Santiago violated the securities laws by alleging that Santiago engaged in unsuitable investment advice, and mismanagement of accounts. The claim settled in the amount of $75,000.

In August, 2019, a customer complained that Santiago violated the securities laws by alleging that Santiago engaged in unsuitable investment advice, and mismanagement of accounts. The claim settled in the amount of $95,000.

In December, 2002, a customer complained that Santiago violated the securities laws by alleging that Santiago engaged in unsuitable investment transactions in the accounts. The claim alleged $756,000 in damages. The claim was closed without action.

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shutterstock_189496604-300x200The law offices of Gana Weinstein LLP are currently investigating claims that advisor Dwight Dykstra (Dykstra) has been accused by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) of engaging in undisclosed outside business activities (OBAs) and private securities transactions.  According to records kept by FINRA Dykstra was employed by Vision Brokerage Services, LLC (Vision Brokerage) a the time of the activity and is now registered Alternative Investment Advisors, LLC (Alternative Investment).  If you have been a victim of Dykstra’s alleged misconduct our firm may be able to assist you in recovering funds.

According to FINRA, the regulator sanctioned Dykstra after he consented to the sanction that he participated in private securities transactions without providing prior written notice to his member firm. The findings stated that, while registered through with his firm, Dykstra participated in private securities transactions by soliciting investments in promissory notes issued by a company raising capital to develop a senior living real estate project. FINRA found that Dykstra contacted prospective investors to inform them of the investment opportunity, provided marketing materials to interested investors, participated in communications between the issuer and interested investors, and facilitated the sale of approximately $2 million of promissory notes to 21 investors.  FINRA also found that Dykstra was paid $67,500 in selling compensation for his participation in the transactions.

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shutterstock_180341738-200x300The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating BrokerCheck records reports that broker Joseph Gebron (Gebron) currently employed by SW Financial has been subject to at least seven customer complaints, one employment termination for cause, and one criminal matter during the course of his career.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Gebron’s customer complaints alleges that Gebron recommended unsuitable investments in various investments. Allegations involving common and preferred stocks, and private placement securities, among other allegations of misconduct relating to the handling of their accounts.

In January 2013, a customer complained that Gebron violated the securities laws by alleging that Gebron engaged in unauthorized trading, misleading representations, and omissions. The claim alleges $820,000 in damages and is currently pending.

In February 2012, a customer complained that Gebron violated the securities laws by alleging that Gebron engaged in negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, and breach of contract. The claim settled in the amount of $47,500.

In May 2011, a customer complained that Gebron violated the securities laws by alleging that Gebron engaged in unsuitable investment advice, violation of common law fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, and negligence.  The claim settled in the amount of $45,000.

In November 2009, a customer complained that Gebron violated the securities laws by alleging that Gebron engaged in unsuitable investment advice, negligence, and breach of fiduciary duty. The claim settled in the amount of $50,000.

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shutterstock_85873471-300x200Advisor Kevin Houser (Houser), currently employed by brokerage firm Ameriprise Financial Services, LLC (Ameriprise) has been subject to at least four customer complaints during the course of his career.  According to a BrokerCheck report several of the customer complaints concern alternative investments such as direct participation products (DPPs) like business development companies (BDCs), non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs), oil & gas programs, annuities, and private placements.  The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP have represented hundreds of investors who suffered losses caused by these types of high risk, low reward products.

In November 2020 a customer complained that Houser violated the securities laws by alleging that Houser made misleading recommendations in various REITs and BDCs including Franklin Square, Cole Credit Property Trust IV, and CIM REIT.  The claim involves alternative investments and alleges $358,000 damages, and is currently pending.

In July 2020 a customer complained that Houser violated the securities laws by alleging that Houser made misleading recommendations in various REITs, BDCs, and an annuity including Franklin Square.  The claim involves alternative investments and alleges $300,000 damages, and is currently pending.

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shutterstock_1081038-300x200The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating BrokerCheck records reports that former broker Martin Batstone (Batstone), barred from acting as a broker from FINRA, has been subject to at least six customer complaints and two regulatory actions during the course of his career. Batstone was most recently associated with Newbridge Securities Corporation (Newbridge). According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Batstone’s customer complaints alleges that Batstone recommended unsuitable investments in various investments including allegations involving private securities, annuities, mutual funds, and REITs, among other allegations of misconduct relating to the handling of their accounts.

In October 2019, FINRA filed a regulatory action finding that Batstone consented to sanctions. Batstone was a respondent in a FINRA complaint. The complaint alleged that Batstone willfully violated Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange act of 1934, and Rule 10b-5(a)-(c), and FINRA Rule 2010, by transferring client funds into his personal bank accounts. FINRA has barred Batstone from acting as a broker or otherwise being associated with a broker-dealer firm, starting February 2020.

In October 2017, a customer complained that Batstone violated the securities laws by alleging that Batstone engaged in unsuitable investment advice, due to the purchase of two annuities unsuitable for the client based on her risk tolerance.  The claim settled in the amount of $5,000.

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shutterstock_155045255-289x300The law offices of Gana Weinstein LLP are currently investigating claims that advisor Xerxes Mullan (Mullan) has been accused by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) of engaging in undisclosed outside business activities (OBAs) and private securities transactions.  According to records kept by FINRA Mullan was employed by Purshe Kaplan Sterling Investments (Purshe Kaplan) through June 2019.  If you have been a victim of Mullan’s alleged misconduct our firm may be able to assist you in recovering funds.

According to FINRA, the regulator sanctioned Mullan after he consented to the sanction that he participated in private securities transactions involving approximately $6 million in total sales without his member firm’s knowledge or approval.  FINRA found that Mullan disclosed his role at a registered investment advisor to his firm but that Mullan did not provide prior written notice to the firm of his participation in the securities offerings. In addition, FINRA also found that Mullan falsely certified on the firm’s annual compliance questionnaires that he was not involved in any private securities transaction that had not been previously disclosed to the firm.

Mullan’s BrokerCheck also reveals several disclosed OBAs including Avestar Capital Partners, One motel condo, several rental properties, among other disclosures.

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shutterstock_186471755-300x200According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) financial advisor Timothy O’Brien (O’Brien), formerly employed by Feltl & Company has been subject to numerous disclosures including at least six customer complaints, two criminal matters, four judgement or tax liens, and regulatory complaints during the course of his career.  O’Brien customer complaints alleges that O’Brien recommended unsuitable investments, made misrepresentations, and overconcentrated investments relating to the handling of client accounts.

In November 2020 O’Brien consented to FINRA findings and sanctions that he placed unauthorized trades in a customer’s account. FINRA found that O’Brien sold a limited partnership position in the customer’s account and purchased Class A shares of a mutual fund. FINRA found that O’Brien then attempted to call the customer to discuss the trades but did not reach her before executing the transactions.

In July 2020 a customer complained that O’Brien violated the securities laws by alleging that O’Brien made unsuitable investments, over concentration, and misrepresentation resulting in excessive losses in the account.  The claim alleged $450,000 in damages and settled for $350,000.

O’Brien has several large tax liens.  Such disclosures on a broker’s CRD can be a red flag that the broker may be influenced to engage in high commission activity in order to satisfy personal debts.  In addition, a broker’s inability to manage their own finances is relevant in a customer’s decision to use their services. Continue Reading

shutterstock_146470052-300x205The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP have been receiving investor complaints concerning advisors recommending what the advisors call hedge or bear market products to the investors causing large investor losses.  These complaints often involve large holdings in derivative, leveraged, or inverse investment vehicles that are extraordinarily risky.  Further, such investments are not bear market investments or account protection investments.  These investments are usually leveraged bets against general market indices that have long time history of growth.

Two favorite advisor bets against the general market are leveraged ETFs and VIX related investments.  An ETF is a registered investment trust whose shares represent an interest in a portfolio of securities that track an underlying benchmark or index.  Leveraged ETFs differ from other ETFs in that they seek to return a multiple of the performance of the underlying index or benchmark or the inverse or opposite performance.

To accomplish their objectives non-traditional and leveraged ETFs typically contain very complex investment products, including interest rate swap agreements, futures contracts, and other derivative instruments.  Moreover, leveraged or non-traditional ETFs are designed to achieve their stated objectives only over the course of one trading session, i.e., in one day. This is because between trading sessions the fund manager for the ETF generally will rebalance the fund’s holdings in order to meet the fund’s objectives and is known as the “daily reset.”  As a result of the daily reset the correlation between the performance of a leveraged ETF and its linked index or benchmark is inexact and “tracking error” occurs.  Over longer periods of time or pronounced during periods of volatility, this “tracking error” between a non-traditional ETF and its benchmark becomes compounded significantly.

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