Articles Tagged with Ameriprise Financial Services

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 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.

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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 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.

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shutterstock_94332400-300x225The investment lawyers of Gana 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.

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shutterstock_94632238-300x214The investment lawyers of Gana 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.

The providing of loans or selling of notes and other investments outside of a brokerage firm constitutes impermissible private securities transactions – a practice known in the industry as “selling away”.  In a subsequent, FINRA regulatory action Elliott consented to sanctions in the form of a permanent bar because he failed to provide documents and information requested by FINRA during the course their investigation.

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shutterstock_132317306Our firm is investigating claims made by Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. (Ameriprise) when the firm terminated broker Adam Ausloos (Ausloos).  According to the firm, Ausloos was discharged in July 2016 after allegation were made that Ausloos violated firm policies and was suspended and subsequently discharged for violation of company policy related to outside business activities and private placement activity.

According to Ausloos’ brokercheck records Ausloos disclosed outside business activities including Atomic Consulting LLC, real estate, and AdviseWorks Wealth Advisors LLC.  The providing of loans or selling of notes and other investments outside of a brokerage firm constitutes impermissible private securities transactions – a practice known in the industry as “selling away”.  Often times brokers who engage in this practice use outside businesses in order to market their securities.

Ausloos entered the securities industry in 2012.  From August 2012 through May 2014 Ausloos was associated with Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated.  From May 2014 until July 2016, Ausloos was registered with Ameriprise out of the firm’s Brookfield, Wisconsin office location.

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shutterstock_132317306The securities lawyers of Gana 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.

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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.

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shutterstock_180341738The securities fraud lawyers of Gana 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.

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shutterstock_128655458The securities lawyers of Gana LLP are investigating customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against broker Nancy Daoud (Daoud). According to BrokerCheck records Daoud is subject to 6 customer complaints. The customer complaints against Daoud allege securities law violations that including unsuitable investments and misrepresentations among other claims.   Many of the most recent claims involve allegations concerning non traded real estate investment trusts (Non-Traded REITs) and business development companies (BDCs).

As a background since the mid-2000s Non-Traded REITs became one of Wall Street’s hottest products. However, the failure of Non-Traded REITs to perform as well as their publicly traded counterparts has called into question if Non-Traded REITs should be sold at all and if so should there be a limit on the amount a broker can recommend. See Controversy Over Non-Traded REITs: Should These Products Be Sold to Investors? Part I

Non-Traded REITs are securities that invest in different types of real estate assets such as commercial, residential, or other specialty niche real estate markets such as strip malls, hotels, storage, and other industries. Non-traded REITs are sold only through broker-dealers, are illiquid, have no or limited secondary market and redemption options, and can only be liquidated on terms dictated by the issuer, which may be changed at any time and without prior warning.

Investors are also often ignorant to several other facts that would warn against investing in Non-Traded REITs. First, only 85% to 90% of investor funds actually go towards investment purposes. In other words, investors have lost up to 15% of their investment to fees and costs on day one in a Non-Traded REIT. Second, often times part or almost all of the distributions that investors receive from Non-Traded REITs include a return of capital and not actual revenue generated from the properties owned by the REIT. The return of capital distributions reduces the ability of the REIT to generate income and/or increases the investment’s debt or leverage.

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shutterstock_89758564The investment attorneys of Gana LLP are interested in speaking with clients of Detlef Schoeppler (Schoeppler). According to the BrokerCheck records kept by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Schoeppler has been the subject of at least 10 customer complaints, one criminal matter, and three judgments or liens. The customer complaints against Schoeppler allege securities law violations that claim unsuitable investments in various investment products including REITs, variable annuities, and mutual funds. The most recent complaint was filed in August 2012, and alleged $77,569 in damages due to claims that the broker recommended a variable annuity purchase in June 2011 that was misrepresented to the customer. In addition, the customer alleged that the fees were not fully disclosed and that there were trades made without the client’s authorization.

In addition, in July 2014, two tax liens were imposed on Schoeppler. One lien is for $184,519 and the other is for $182,691. A broker with large liens are an important consideration for investors to consider when dealing with a financial advisor. An advisor may be conflicted to offer high commission investments to customers in order to satisfy liens and debts that may not be in the client’s best interests.

Schoeppler entered the securities industry in 1996. Since June 1996, Schoeppler has been associated with Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. out of the firm’s Tampa, Florida branch office location.

Many of the complaints involve the sale of variable annuities. Variable annuities are complex products that combine aspects of investing and insurance. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has released a publication entitled: Variable Annuities: What You Should Know encouraging investors to ask questions about the variable annuity before investing. Essentially, a variable annuity is a contract with an insurance company under which the insurer agrees to make periodic payments to you. The investor chooses the investments made in the annuity and value of your variable annuity will vary depending on the performance of the investment options chosen. The primary benefits of variable annuities are the death benefit and tax deferment of investment gains.

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