The investment lawyers of Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating customer complaints against broker Bernard Parker (Parker). The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced fraud charges against Parker, a former broker with Edward Jones through his DBA Parker Financial Services located in Indiana, Pennsylvania. Parker has been accused of raising at least $1.2 million of investor money that was in reality used to remodel his house and pay other bills among other uses.
The SEC alleged that Parker raised more than $1.2 million from his brokerage customers and others who Parker told were purchasing real estate tax lien certificates that would earn returns of 6-9% annually. Specifically, Parker told prospective investors that Parker Financial Services would use funds to purchase tax liens placed by municipalities on properties primarily in Florida, Arizona, and Colorado. However, the SEC found that Parker pooled the money he raised into several bank accounts and routinely deposited only a portion of the money into a bank account and took the remainder in cash for himself.
The SEC alleged that Parker only used a small amount of investor funds to purchase tax liens and instead used their money to remodel his home, make car payments, and pay bills for his father-in-law. For instance, according to the SEC Parker withdrew more than $650,000 in investor funds in cash from teller transactions, ATM withdrawals, and checks. Parker additionally spent approximately $197,000 of investor money in other transactions, $150,000 through personal checks, and $169,000 for online bill payments. In total Parker made approximately $188,000 in interest payments to earlier investors in an effort to keep his investment scheme from being discovered.
The SEC’s complaint alleges that Parker conducted the unregistered and fraudulent offering from 2008 to 2014 through his company Parker Financial Services. Parker is alleged to have failed to disclose his side business to his brokerage firm. The conduct allegedly engaged in by Parker is also referred to as “selling away” in the industry. In addition to the civil charges, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania has announced the filing of criminal charges against Parker.
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. However, even though when these incidents occur the brokerage firm claims ignorance of their advisor’s activities the firm is obligated under the FINRA rules to properly 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.
Investors who have suffered losses 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.