Articles Tagged with Ameritas

shutterstock_94332400-300x225According to BrokerCheck records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) advisor Alonza Barnett (Barnett), in March 2017, was barred from the industry by FINRA after FINRA requested documents and information and he failed to request termination of his suspension within three months of the date of the Notice of Suspension drawing an automatic bar from association with any FINRA member in all capacities.  Previously, Barnett was registered with Ameritas Investment Corp. (Ameritas).

In February 2017 a customer filed a complaint alleging that for a 15 year period Barnett engaged in conversion of funds, breach of fiduciary duty and constructive fraud, and violation of the North Carolina Investment Advisors Act.  The claim appears to involve private securities.  The claim alleged $1,750,000 in damages and is currently pending.

At this time it is unclear the extent and scope of Barnett private securities activities.  Barnett CRD lists that he is engaged in fixed insurance products and operates a d/b/a called Dacthler Wealth Management as an outside business activity.  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”.

shutterstock_173088497The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) recently barred broker Jason Muskey for failing to respond to the regulator’s requests for information. FINRA’s investigation appears to have been prompted by Muskey’s termination from Ameritas Investment Corp. (Ameritas) after the firm alleged that he failed to respond to the firm’s request for information concerning an internal investigation concerning theft and forgery. Muskey was registered with Ameritas from June 2006, through June 2014. Muskey operated his business through Ameritas, upon information and belief, through a DBA called Muskey Financial Services.

Since the termination eight customers have filed customer complaints against Ameritas accusing the firm of failing to supervise Muskey’s activities and alleging that Muskey engaged in a Ponzi scheme that led to the theft of their funds.

As recently reported in the times-tribune Muskey was sued recently by his own mother, his wife’s uncle, an aunt, and two others alleging that he stole almost $400,000 in the scheme. Muskey allegedly used the money for his personal benefit and covered up the thefts for years by sending out fake quarterly financial statements that listed a set of phony investments. Many of Muskey’s victims are hard-working blue collar workers who had placed their money with Muskey for retirement.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) recently sanctioned broker Michael James Blake (Blake) over allegations that Blake engaged in the unlawful sale of securities including, upon information and belief, securities linked to Longest Drive, LLC and Grace Communities, LLC.  According to FINRA, Blake participated in private securities transactions involving the investment of more than $3.2 million by approximately 28 investors in 3 investment contracts without providing prior written notice to his firms of his proposed roles in the transactions.  FINRA imposed a $10,000 fine and banned Blake from association with any broker-dealer for one year.

The allegations against Blake are consistent with a “selling away” violation.  Selling away occurs when a securities broker solicits securities that were not approved by the broker’s affiliated firm.  Selling away is a violation of FINRA Rule 3040. The most common securities sold away from brokerage firms involve private placements and promissory notes.  Investors are often completed unaware that the broker’s sales activity is improper.  In addition, the investor does not learn that the broker’s activities were wrongful until the investment scheme is publicized, the broker is sanctioned, or the broker stops returning client calls.

FINRA’s order states that between approximately February 2006 and June 2007, Blake recommended to customers to invest $3,200,000 in real estate properties being developed by entity “GC”, which is believed to stand for Grace Communities.  The invested funds were provided by 28 investors.  According to FINRA, 6 persons invested $250,000 in Development 1 between August and November 2006, 3 persons invested $200,000 in Development 2 in October and November 2006, and 23 persons invested approximately $2,755,000 in Development 3 between February 2006 and June 2008.  According to FINRA, as of September 9, 2013, investors in Blake’s real estate investments have not received a return of their principal or any interest or other payments.