Articles Tagged with A&F Financial Securities

shutterstock_20354401The securities lawyers of Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) against broker James Bernthal (Bernthal). According to BrokerCheck records there are at least 4 customer complaints against Bernthal and 1 judgments or liens. The customer complaints against Bernthal allege a number of securities law violations including that the broker made unsuitable investments, misrepresentations, excessive trading, and unauthorized trading, among other claims.

According to the disclosures, the most recent customer complaint against Bernthal was filed in February 2013 and alleged $100,000 in damages due to unsuitable trades and excessive transactions. The case was resolved for $50,000.

As a background, when brokers engage in excessive trading, sometimes referred to as churning, the broker will typical trade in and out of securities, sometimes even the same stock, many times over a short period of time. Often times the account will completely “turnover” every month with different securities. This type of investment trading activity in the client’s account serves no reasonable purpose for the investor and is engaged in only to profit the broker through the generation of commissions created by the trades. Churning is considered a species of securities fraud. The elements of the claim are excessive transactions of securities, broker control over the account, and intent to defraud the investor by obtaining unlawful commissions. A similar claim, excessive trading, under FINRA’s suitability rule involves just the first two elements. Certain commonly used measures and ratios used to determine churning help evaluate a churning claim. These ratios look at how frequently the account is turned over plus whether or not the expenses incurred in the account made it unreasonable that the investor could reasonably profit from the activity.

shutterstock_112362875According to the BrokerCheck records kept by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker Edward Segur (Segur) has been the subject of at least 2 customer complaints, 3 judgements or liens, 1 criminal matter, and 2 regulatory actions. Customers have filed complaints against Segur alleging securities law violations including excessive commissions and unauthorized trades among other claims. In addition, Segur has had difficulty managing his own finances and had a tax lien of $125,687 imposed in February 2015. Tax liens and judgements are often a sign that the broker cannot manage their own personal finances and may be tempted to recommend high commission products or strategies to clients in order to satisfy debts.

Finally, two state regulators have brought actions against Segur. The state of Arkansas alleged that in January 2013, Segur cold called a resident of the state to recommend the purchase of Sandridge Energy, Inc. (Sandridge). At that time Sandridge was trading at about $7 per share and that Segur stated that he had information that the stock would rise to $12 in less than three months because a new chief executive officer would take over Sandridge causing the stock price to increase. The state of Arkansas found that such statements were unjustified and violated the state’s securities laws. In addition, the state of New Hampshire alleged that Segur cold called one of its residents even though the resident was on the state’s do not call list.

Segur entered the securities industry in 1998. An examination of Segur’s employment history reveals that Segur moves from troubled firm to troubled firm. The pattern of brokers moving in this way is sometimes called “cockroaching” within the industry. See More Than 5,000 Stockbrokers From Expelled Firms Still Selling Securities, The Wall Street Journal, (Oct. 4, 2013). In Segur’s 16 year career he has switched firms 22 times even returning to several firms on different occasions. Many of the firms have been expelled by FINRA including John Thomas Financial which was run by Anastasios “Tommy” Belesis who recently agreed to be banned from the securities industry when the SEC accused him of defrauding investors in two hedge funds. In addition, John Thomas faced allegations of penny-stock fraud by FINRA after the firm reaped more than $100 million in commissions over its six-year history before it closed in July. According to new sources trainees at the firm earned as little as $300 a week to pitch stocks with memorized scripts.

shutterstock_128655458According to the BrokerCheck records kept by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker Patrick Teutonico (Teutonico) has been the subject of at least nine customer complaints and one regulatory action over the course of his career. Customers have filed complaints against Persaud alleging a litany of securities law violations including that the broker made unsuitable investments, unauthorized trades, breach of fiduciary duty, churning, negligent supervision, excessive mark ups, and fraud among other claims. In addition to customer complaints, Teutonico was also subject to a regulatory action by FINRA where the regulator found that Teutonico effected unauthorized trades and was fined and suspended.

An examination of Teutonico’s employment history reveals that Teutonico moves from troubled firm to troubled firm. The pattern of brokers moving in this way is sometimes called “cockroaching” within the industry. See More Than 5,000 Stockbrokers From Expelled Firms Still Selling Securities, The Wall Street Journal, (Oct. 4, 2013). In Teutonico’s 17 year career he has worked at 10 different firms. Since 2008 Teutonico has been registered with First Midwest Securities, Inc., A&F Financial Securities, Inc. QA3 Financial Corp., Obsidian Financial Group, LLC. Since December 2012, Teutonico has been associated with Network 1 Financial Securities Inc. located in Lynbrook, New York.

Advisors are not allowed to engage in unauthorized trading. Such trading occurs when a broker sells securities without the prior authority from the investor. The broker must first discuss all trades with the investor before executing them under NYSE Rule 408(a) and FINRA Rules 2510(b).   These rules explicitly prohibit brokers from making discretionary trades in a customers’ non-discretionary accounts. The SEC has also found that unauthorized trading to be fraudulent nature.