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shutterstock_57938968-200x300According to a compliance officer with Purshe Kaplan Sterling Investments, Inc., (Purshe Kaplan) the firm continued to sell securities offered by GPB Capital Holdings (GPB Capital) after she had reported misgivings as to the entities business model and recommended that the firm not sell the product.  According to court documents, the compliance officers responsibilities included reviewing new product offerings, regulatory disclosures, and conducting monthly and quarterly compliance reviews among other duties.

In January 2016, the compliance officer raised concerns about GPB Capital and did not recommend that the product be added to the Purshe Kaplan platform based upon her finding that members of senior management at the sponsor of the product were using investor funds for personal business interests.  However, Purshe Kaplan dismissed her concerns and re-reviewed GPB Capital without the compliance officer’s input.  Further, Purshe Kaplan instructed the compliance officer not to raise concerns about the product before it was offered to purchasers.  Moreover, it was alleged that less experienced personnel were given the role to evaluate GPB Capital.  If these allegations are true Purshe Kaplan may have intentionally withheld material information from all of its investors concerning GPB Capital.

One private placement that a large number of clients of Purshe Kaplan were sold is GPB Capital related investments.  GPB Capital is facing multiple accusations of being a Ponzi scheme, an ongoing U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and FBI investigations, and even GPB’s chief compliance officer being indicted for illegally obtaining information on the SEC’s investigation.  Now even Volkswagen and Toyota are threatening to pull the plug on GPB Capital auto dealerships.  While advisors have been telling investors to do absolutely nothing and just hang in there – this is nothing more than just additional poor advice.  In November 2019 GPB Capital’s admitted that no financial audit would occur anytime in the near future.  In sum, investors now know there is nothing to hang onto.  By the day, advisor recommendations to do nothing appear to be completely self-serving, out of the loop, and not in the interest of the investor.

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shutterstock_132317306-300x200Advisor David Miller (Miller), currently employed by PeachCap Securities, Inc. (PeachCap Securities) has been subject to at least seven customer complaints during the course of his career.  According to a BrokerCheck report the customer complaints concerns alternative investments such as direct participation products (DPPs) like non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs), oil & gas programs, annuities, and equipment leasing programs.  The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP have represented dozens of investors who suffered losses caused by these types of high risk, low reward products.

In October 2019 a customer complained that Miller violated the securities laws by alleging that Miller engaged in sales practice violations related to mismanagement of her accounts from October 2015 to October 2016. The claim alleges $43,541 in damages and is currently pending.

In August 2019 a customer complained that Miller violated the securities laws by alleging that Miller made investment recommendations that the investor was unhappy with. The claim alleges $1.2 million in damages and is currently pending.

In June 2019 a customer complained that Miller violated the securities laws by alleging that Miller made investment recommendations that the investor was unhappy with. The claim alleges $550,000 in damages and was denied by the firm.

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shutterstock_85873471-300x200The securities lawyers of Gana Weinstein LLP represent investors that were sold NorthStar Healthcare Income Inc., (NorthStar Healthcare) – a non-traded real estate investment trust (non-traded REIT).  Our representations focuses on the failure of the investor’s brokerage firms to conduct adqueate due diligence on NorthStar Healthcare pior to recommending the investment for their client in addition to other suitability violations of the securities laws.  Our firm continues to be contacted on nearly a daily basis concerning their investment in this product.

NorthStar Healthcare continues to report that it is not profitable.  NorthStar Healthcare has reported massive investor losses on investor capital raised and currently trades at only 25 cents for every dollar purchased on the secondary markets.  On November 29, 2019 investors received a letter from Comrit Investment 1, LP (Comrit) offering investors the opportunity to sell the REIT for only $2.86 a share – again reflecting the dire state of affairs for NorthStar Healthcare.  According to the September 2019 financial data Northstar raised over $1.7 billion from investors and has accumulated losses of $1 billion of it leaving a net equity of less than $700 million.  In fact, in the last 9 months since the end of 2018 Northstar reports that investor equity declined another 7% while it has not paid investors any distributions.

As investors are aware, NorthStar Healthcare no longer distributes a dividend.  Further, a review of NorthStar Healthcare’s dividend history reveals that most distributions received were merely fraudulent returns of investor capital and not profits on investments.  Indeed, not one penny returned to investors since 2015 was from the REIT’s profits.  NorthStar Healthcare’s continuing return of capital to investors since 2015 served only to allow the company to raise more investor money and make it appear to investors as if the company was a profitable enterprise when it never was.

According to the NorthStar Healthcare’s website, the investment formed to originate, acquire and asset manage equity and debt investments in healthcare real estate. NorthStar Healthcare claims that it is focused on making investments in the needs-driven senior housing sector including independent living facilities, assisted living, memory care, and skilled nursing facilities.  NorthStar Healthcare launched in February 2013 and raised total gross proceeds of $2 billion, including $225.3 million through its distribution reinvestment plan.  The company claims to have a $2.4 billion portfolio of 633 properties as of the June 2019.

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shutterstock_189135755-300x300The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating BrokerCheck records reports that financial advisor Joel Davidman (Davidman), currently employed by Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Incorporated (Stifel Nicolaus) has been subject to at least three customer complaints, one employment termination for cause, and two regulatory actions during the course of his career.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Davidman’s customer complaint alleges that Davidman recommended unsuitable investments in a variety of investment products including bonds among other allegations of misconduct relating to the handling of their accounts.

In May 2015 Davidman’s employer Morgan Stanley discharged Davidman alleging that the representative engaged in discretionary trades in a client’s account without authorization.

Thereafter, FINRA investigated the allegations and in July 2017 suspended Davidman after alleging that he consented to sanctions and findings that he exercised discretionary trading authority in the accounts of customers without obtaining prior written authorization from each of the customers or approval from his member firm to treat the customers’ accounts as discretionary. FINRA found that Davidman effected some of the trades using time and price discretion and the remaining occurred without Davidman discussing and receiving approval for the trades from the customers on the dates of the transactions.

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shutterstock_112866430-300x199Advisor Yvonne Silguero (Silguero), currently employed by LPL Financial LLC (LPL Financial) has been subject to at least two customer complaints during the course of her career.  According to a BrokerCheck report the customer complaints concerns alternative investments such as direct participation products (DPPs) like non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs), oil & gas programs, annuities, and equipment leasing programs.  The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP have represented dozens of investors who suffered losses caused by these types of high risk, low reward products.

In August 2019 a customer complained that Silguero violated the securities laws by alleging that Silguero engaged in sales practice violations related to negligence, misrepresentations, breach of fiduciary duty from July 2014 through October 2018 concerning alternative investments. The claim alleges $500,000 in damages and is currently pending.

In April 2017 a customer complained that Silguero violated the securities laws by alleging that Silguero engaged in sales practice violations related to violations of the Texas State Securities Statutes, negligent misrepresentations, unsuitable investment recommendations and violations of the FINRA Rules.  The claim alleged $3,759,713 in damages and went to hearing.  The arbitration panel found LPL Financial liable and awarded $864,839 in damages, $340,000 in attorneys’ fees, and $350,000 in additional damages.

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shutterstock_93851422-300x240The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating BrokerCheck records reports that financial advisor Jamie Westenbarger (Westenbarger), formerly employed by Securities America, Inc. (Securities America) has been subject to at least five customer complaints, two employment termination for cause, and one regulatory action during the course of his career.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Westenbarger’s customer complaint alleges that Westenbarger recommended unsuitable investments in a variety of investment products including alternative investments, non-traded REITs, variable annuities, corporate notes, and UITs among other allegations of misconduct relating to the handling of their accounts.

In August 2019 Westenbarger’s employer, Securities America, discharged Westenbarger alleging that the representative was discharged for violating firm policies and procedures regarding borrowing funds from clients.

Thereafter, FINRA investigated the allegations and in October 2019 barred Westenbarger after alleging that he consented to the sanction and to the entry of findings that he failed to provide documents requested by FINRA during the course of an investigation concerning information disclosed by Securities America. FINRA found that Westenbarger intentionally provided a partial response, but did not substantially comply with all aspects of FINRA’s request.

In October 2019 a customer complained that Westenbarger violated the securities laws by alleging that Westenbarger convinced them to purchase a corporate note and instead used the funds for his own purposes, that in June 2018, Westenbarger convinced them to replace a variable annuity for no apparent reason, and that in July 2019 Westenbarger made an unauthorized purchase of a UIT, which was unsuitable.  The claim alleges $212,000 in damages and is currently pending.

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shutterstock_177792281-300x198The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating BrokerCheck records reports that financial advisor Charles Kerker (Kerker), formerly employed by Next Financial Group, Inc. (Next Financial) was has been subject to at least one customer complaint and one employment termination for cause during the course of his career.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Westenbarger’s customer complaint alleges that Kerker recommended unsuitable investments among other allegations of misconduct relating to the handling of their accounts.

In June 2019 Kerker’s employer, Next Financial, discharged Kerker alleging failure to adequately respond to a compliance inquiry regarding equity transactions in 12 customer accounts. Specifically, the date and time that clients were contacted regarding each transaction, the rationale for the transactions, the suitability analysis conducted for each customer and copies of investment research.

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shutterstock_171721244-300x200Advisor Robert Burns (Burns), currently employed by Cetera Advisor Networks LLC (Cetera Advisor) has been subject to at least two customer complaints during the course of his career.  According to a BrokerCheck report the customer complaints concerns alternative investments such as direct participation products (DPPs) like non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs), oil & gas programs, annuities, and equipment leasing programs.  The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP have represented dozens of investors who suffered losses caused by these types of high risk, low reward products.

Burns’ customers complain that they lost money investing in products such as Penneco 10, Carter Validus, GMI, Cypress, KBS REIT, Resource Real Estate, and UDF IV.  UDF has been accused of being an investment fraud scheme.

In August 2019 a customer complained that Burns violated the securities laws by alleging that Burns recommended an overconcentration and unsuitable investments in alternative products and alleged the firm failed to do due diligence of the alternative investments. The claim alleges $500,000 in damages and is currently pending.

In August 2018 a customer complained that Burns violated the securities laws by alleging that Burns recommended unsuitable investments in alternative products. The claim settled for $150,000.

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shutterstock_184920014-300x199The law offices of Gana Weinstein LLP are currently investigating claims that advisor Dain Stokes (Stokes) was discharged by his employer after being accused of running an investment fraud scheme.  According to BrokerCheck records, Stokes is formerly registered with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) member firm LPL Financial LLC (LPL Financial).  In addition, Stokes disclosed two regulatory complaints and four customer complaints.  If you have been a victim of Stokes’ alleged misconduct our firm may be able to assist you in recovering funds.

On August 1, 2019 an investor reported to the Fremont Police Department that he had possibly been defrauded by Stokes related to an investment of two hundred one thousand dollars.  The complaint alleges that the investment was for an alleged project in Africa purportedly involving popstar Taylor Swift.  The victim provided copies of cancelled checks, unsecured promissory notes, and text messages to the Fremont Police Department that corroborated his complaint.

According to the complaint Stokes used fraudulent messages to continue to entice the investor including:

  • On November 29, 2018, Stokes is claimed to have wrote: “We are getting close, a week, maybe two, I just had a long talk with Taylor about it in the middle of the night lol.”
  • On May 8, 2019, Stokes is claimed to have wrote: “Taylor is meeting with Bill Gates and the rest of the sponsors who are paying out the commissions on May 20th To try in wrap things up, so we all get paid.”
  • On June 12, 2019, Stokes is claimed to have wrote: “Trump’s illegally locked my bank accounts, and I’m fighting it in the Federal Bank Commission in the New Hampshire AG’s Office. Taylor is releasing a new song on Instagram in 30 minutes and I’m promoting it.”

In August 2019 LPL Financial discharged Stokes in connection with State of New Hampshire suspension of investment adviser agent and broker-dealer representative license.

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shutterstock_186772637-300x199Our firm has been contacted by hundreds of clients that have been defrauded in GPB Capital Holdings (GPB Capital) related investments.  One common element in our firm’s contact with GPB Capital investors is the advisor’s recommendation to victims – do absolutely nothing.  The advisors recommendation is expressed in phrases like “the audits will come out”, “GPB Capital is a completely transparent company and not a scam”, and sometimes “just hang in there.”

However, in November GPB Capital’s patience game crumbled and the firm admitted that no financial audit would occur anytime in the near future.  In sum, investors now know there is nothing to hang onto.  Advisors have no counter talking points to weigh against multiple accusations of being a Ponzi scheme, the ongoing U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and FBI investigations, and even GPB’s chief compliance officer being indicted for illegally obtaining information on the SEC’s investigation.  Now even Volkswagen and Toyota are threatening to pull the plug on GPB Capital auto dealerships.  By the day, advisor recommendations to do nothing appear to be completely self-serving, out of the loop, and not in the interest of the investor.

Our firm has analyzed the GPB Capital offerings and believe that brokerage firms did not review GPB Capital offerings in any significant detail.  Any serious due diligence would have revealed that GPB Capital was a dubious offering destined to fail.  In complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) our clients have alleged that GPB Capital’s scam was highly predictable and easy to spot.  Nearly every aspect of the offering raised unanswerable questions from GPB Capital’s senior management, fantastical business claims, and intra-fund lending practices.

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