Articles Tagged with Ameriprise Financial Services

shutterstock_92699377-300x285According to BrokerCheck records financial advisor Michael Pepe (Pepe), currently employed by Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. (Ameriprise) has been subject to six customer complaints, one criminal matter, and one tax lien in his career.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), many of the complaints against Pepe concern allegations of unsuitable investments.

In August 2018, Pepe disclosed a tax lien of $34,439.  This information has been found to be material for investors to have because an advisor who cannot manage his own finances is a relevant factor for investors to consider.  In addition, a broker in financial distress may be influenced to recommend high commission products or strategies.

In May 2018 a customer filed a complaint alleging that Pepe engaged in unauthorized trading in unsuitable securities. It was further alleged that had he been suitably invested, he would have generated a profit of approximately $750,000 under a well-managed portfolio damages analysis.  The complaint is currently pending.

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shutterstock_15963142-300x200According to BrokerCheck records financial advisor Anthony Salerno (Salerno), employed by Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. (Ameriprise), has been subject to three customer complaints.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Salerno has been accused by a customers of unsuitable investment advice concerning various investment products including energy stocks including master limited partnerships (MLPs).  The law offices of Gana Weinstein LLP continue to report on investor related losses and potential legal remedies due to recommendations to investor in oil and gas and commodities related investments.

The most recent claim was filed in March 2018 and alleges unsuitable recommendations of municipal bonds in the period of 2013 to December 2017. The customer claimed $300,000 in damages and the claim is currently pending.

Our firm handles claims and is also investigating securities claims against brokerage firms over sales practices related to the recommendations of oil & gas and commodities products such as exchange traded notes (ETNs), structured notes, private placements, master limited partnerships (MLPs), leveraged ETFs, mutual funds, and individual stocks.

shutterstock_191231699-300x200According to BrokerCheck records financial advisor Jack Griffith (Griffith), currently employed by Janney Montgomery Scott LLC (Janney Scott) has been subject to five customer complaints and one lien.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), most of a Griffith’s customer complaints allege that Griffith made unsuitable recommendations in equity securities.

In January 2018 a customer made allegations unsuitable recommendations for the client’s account, overconcentration, and breached his fiduciary duty. The claim alleged $200,000 in damages and is currently pending.

Also in January 2018 another customer made allegations of unsuitable recommendations for the client’s account.  The claim alleged $150,000 in damages and is currently pending.

shutterstock_178801082-300x200Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. (Ameriprise) financial advisor Jonathan Mirer (Mirer) has subject to seven customer complaints according to BrokerCheck records.  Mirer has been employed with Ameriprise since July 2016.  According to BrokerCheck the most recent customer complaints allege unsuitable investments and unauthorized trading among other claims.

The most recent complaint was filed in October 2016 and alleges unauthorized trading causing $62,000 in damages.  The complaint was settled.  In April 2016 another investor filed a complaint alleging damages as a result of unsuitable investments in energy stocks.  The complaint was settled.  The securities lawyers of Gana Weinstein LLP continue to investigate the customer complaints against Mirer.

Our firm is currently tracking a number of brokers that severely concentrated their clients in the oil and gas and commodities sectors which has historically possessed speculative risks due to the volatile nature of commodities prices.  Before making such recommendations, financial advisors must ensure that the oil and gas and commodities related investments being recommended to their client is appropriate for the investor and conduct due diligence on the company before making the recommendation.  Unfortunately, sometimes adivsors fail to conduct sufficient research or understand the risks and prospects of the company and the volatile nature of commodities.

shutterstock_22722853-300x204Broker Tom Parks (Parks) has been subject to a massive number of customer complaints alleging many millions in damages.  Parks was associated with Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. (Ameriprise) until April 2016.  According BrokerCheck the customer complaints largely involve claims of unsuitable investments in oil and gas, variable annuities, and REITs.  In particular, many of the complaints mention master limited partnership (MLPs).  In total, 23 customers have brought complaints involving Parks’ actions.  In addition, Ameriprise terminated Park stating that Parks was permitted to resign while the broker was on heightened supervision for violations of company policy related to suitability, client disclosure, and outgoing correspondence issues.  The securities lawyers of Gana Weinstein LLP continue to investigate the customer complaints against Parks.

Our clients tell us similar stories that their advisors hyped MLPs and other oil and gas investments as high yielding investments without significant discussion of risk.  In a recent Associated Press article, common stories of how investors are pitched by their financial advisors on oil and gas private placements were reported on. Often times these products are pitched as ways to ride the boom in U.S. oil and gas production and receive steady streams of income.

Brokers that have recommended MLPs to investors may have made unsuitable recommendations based upon the yields of these investments rather than the risk to principal.  Over the past year MLPs have been hammered due to weaknesses in oil and gas and commodities markets.

shutterstock_94332400-300x225The investment lawyers of Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc.’s (Ameriprise) termination of former broker Stephen Mosley (Mosley) working out of the Lake Havasu City, Arizona office.  Ameriprise terminated Mosley in November 2016.  According to the broker’s Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) BrokerCheck filing the firm stated that Mosley “was terminated for compliance policy violations related to complying with disciplinary action and heightened supervision, soliciting a prohibited security and suitability of a transaction.”  Mosley also has two customer complaints listed on his record.  No other disclosure concerning the extent and nature of the activity is disclosed.

However, Mosley has disclosed several outside business activities including his d/b/a Wisdom & Wealth Corp.  Mosley has also disclosed entities including LP Prop, LLC – a real estate holding company.  It is unclear at this time if Mosley’s activities involve any of these disclosed entities.

The providing of loans, selling of promissory notes, or recommending investments outside of the firm constitutes impermissible private securities transactions – a practice known in the industry as “selling away”.  Often times, brokers sell promissory notes and other investments through side businesses as accountants, lawyers, real estate agents, or insurance agents to clients of those side practices.

shutterstock_94632238-300x214The investment lawyers of Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating the action brought by the Department of Justice (DOJ) involving property acquired by Mark Sellers (Sellers) as part of a $10 million investment fraud scheme.  According to authorities Sellers shot and killed himself on Aug. 2, 2016.  The DOJ alleged that Sellers fraud scheme involved stealing approximately $10 million from approximately 100 investors through his firm, Selden Companies, LLC, from December 2007 through at least 2015.

According to the DOJ, Sellers fraudulently misrepresented to investors that he would use the funds to purchase companies and turn them around to sell at a profit. However, Sellers and his wife spent almost all of the invested funds to maintain their own lavish lifestyle.  Sellers’ used investor funds for vehicles, life insurance policies, homes, jewelry, and credit card purchases laundering the invested funds through multiple bank accounts.

It has also been alleged that Sellers used former Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. (Ameriprise) broker John Elliott (Elliott) to raise funds for the fraud.  According to records kept by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Elliott working out of Overland Park, Kansas location from November 2011 through September 2016.  Thereafter, Ameriprise terminated Elliott alleging “compliance policy violations related to selling away.

shutterstock_132317306The securities lawyers of Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against Mark Wesley (Wesley) alleging unsuitable investments, negligence, and breach of fiduciary duty among other claims.  According to brokercheck records Wesley has been subject to six customer complaints.  Some of the complaints involve direct participation products (DPPs), oil and gas private placements, variable annuities, non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs), and other alternative investments.

In June 2016, Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. (Ameriprise) permitted Wesley to resign alleging that he was under suspension for compliance policy violations related to unauthorized trading, use of discretion in a non-discretionary account, supervision of staff and responding to supervision.

In addition, Wesley has been subject to five tax liens totaling millions of dollars.  A broker’s inability to handle their personal finances has also been found to be relevant in helping investors determine if they should allow the broker to handle their finances.

shutterstock_186772637In September 2015, The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced fraud charges and an asset freeze to halt an ongoing real estate investment scheme being conducted by a trio of business associates in California accused of stealing investors’ money.  The SEC alleged in their complaint that the fraud was orchestrated by Paul Ricky Mata (Mata), a former registered investment adviser with an extensive disciplinary history.  Even though Mata was terminated from Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. (Ameriprise) and had other disciplinary suspensions, Mata formed two unregistered advisory firms, Logos Wealth Advisors, Inc. (Wealth Advisors) and Lifetime Enterprises, Inc., dba Logos Lifetime University (Lifetime University).  According to the SEC, Mata together with David Kayatta (Kayatta) and Mario Pincheira (Pincheira) defrauded investors.

The complaint alleges that from 2008 through the 2015, defendants raised over $14 million from over 100 investors from California and several other states, by soliciting investments in Secured Capital Investments, LLC (SCI) and Logos Real Estate Holdings, LLC (LREH).  Many of the investors were claimed to be retirees who were duped into selling their existing securities holdings and investing in the fraudulent funds using online videos, investment seminars promising “Indestructible Wealth,” and presentations to church groups promising “Finances God’s Way.” Mata, Kayatta, Wealth Advisors, and Lifetime University have been accused of inducing investors by falsely promising guaranteed returns, misrepresenting investment proceeds use, and failing to disclose Mata’s disciplinary history to his advisory clients.

According to Mata’s BrokerCheck records, he has 15 disclosure events including 7 regulatory or civil events and eight customer complaints.

shutterstock_180341738The securities fraud lawyers of Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) against broker Bahram Mirhashemi (Mirhashemi). According to BrokerCheck records Mirhashemi has been the subject of at least five customer complaints, one regulatory action, one regulatory investigation, two employment separations, four judgments or tax liens, and one financial disclosure. The customer complaints against McMahon allege a number of securities law violations including that the broker made unsuitable investments, unauthorized trading, negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, and churning (excessive trading) among other claims.

In December 2015, FINRA initiated an investigation that looked into claims of unauthorized trades, unsuitable mutual fund switching, churning of customer accounts, fraud, misleading communications with customers, using unapproved methods of communications, filing false forms with FINRA concerning tax liens, and engaging in unapproved outside business activities. Shortly thereafter, Mirhashemi’s firm terminated him stating the FINRA investigation as the reason for the termination.

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.