Articles Tagged with Berthel Fisher

shutterstock_160350752-300x200According to BrokerCheck records financial advisor Farrukh Kazmi (Kazmi), currently employed by Berthel, Fisher & Company Financial Services, Inc. (Berthel Fisher) has been subject to one customer complaint, two terminations for cause, one financial disclosures, and one regulatory complaint.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), in August 2018 Kazmi was subject to a regulatory complaint by FINRA alleging a number of securities laws violations.

The FINRA complaint alleged that Kazmi regularly used instant messaging and text messaging to communicate with his member firm’s customers to conduct securities business and ignored Berthel Fisher’s explicit instruction that he discontinue using instant messaging to communicate with his customers. FINRA also claims that Kazmi did not inform his firm that he used text messaging or instant messaging to conduct securities business, nor did he provide copies of these communications to the firm. The complaint further alleges that Kazmi repeatedly made false statements to Berthel Fisher and to FINRA about using instant messaging to conduct securities business.

FINRA is also claiming that Kazmi exercised discretion on hundreds of occasions when placing trades in the accounts of customers, without prior written authorization from the customers or written approval from his firm. FINRA also alleges that Kazmi is falsely denying exercising discretion in customer accounts in statements to both Berthel Fisher and FINRA.

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shutterstock_184433255-300x228The investment fraud attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are currently investigating previously registered broker Mason Gann (Gann). According to BrokerCheck Records, Gann has been subject to a regulatory matter in which the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) sanctioned Gann for violations of the securities laws concerning unauthorized trading. In addition, Gann has been subject to three customer disputes, two of which are still pending.  Gann has also been subject to termination from employment and a tax lien.

In February 2018, Gann was terminated from Berthel Fisher & Company Financial Services, Inc. (Berthel Fisher) for allegedly violating the firm’s conditions involving heightened supervision.

Subsequently, in April 2018, FINRA found that Gann had exercised discretionary power in 6 non-discretionary customer accounts without the customer’s prior written approval. By doing so, Gann was in violation of NASD ConductRule 2510 (b) and FINRA Rule 2010.  Gann executed a total of 500 discretionary trades at previous firm of employment Berthel Fisher, where all discretionary trades were prohibited. Without admitting or denying the findings, Gann consented to the sanctions and to the entry of findings. Consequently, FINRA imposed a $5,000 fine and 20 day suspension.

shutterstock_182371613-300x200The securities attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are currently investigating Berthel, Fisher & Company Financial Services, Inc. (Berthel, Fisher & Company) broker Scott Barcomb (Barcomb). According to BrokerCheck records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Barcomb has been subject to four customer disputes concerning unsuitable variable annuity recommendations and failure to conduct due diligence on private placement investments.  In addition, Barcomb has been subject to one criminal action.

In August 2010, a customer alleged that Barcomb failed to disclose taxes involved in disbursements from a 1035 contract. The case settled for $20,000 in damages.

In June 2010, a customer alleged that Barcomb and his member firm did not properly conduct due diligence on the tenant-in-common (TIC) property that they had recommended to their customers and invested their customers in. This dispute was settled for $200,000.

shutterstock_20354398-300x200Current Arete Wealth Management, LLC (Arete Wealth) broker Alvery Bartlett (Bartlett) has been subject to three customer complaints.  According to a BrokerCheck report many of the complaints concern alternative investments, private placements, and direct participation products (DPPs) such as non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs) and oil and gas programs.  The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP have extensive experience handling investor losses caused by these types of products.

In March 2018 a customer filed a complaint alleging that the investments purchased between 2003 and 2011 were unsuitable and were misrepresented to him.  The client also alleged that the firm failed to conduct adequate due diligence on the investments and failed to supervise the representative.  The claim is currently pending and alleges damages of $6,637,918.

Our firm often handles cases involving direct participation products, Non-Traded REITs, oil and gas offerings, equipment leasing products, and other alternative investments.  These products are almost always unsuitable for investors.  In addition, the brokers who sell them are paid additional commission in order to hype inferior quality investments which provides a perverse incentives by brokers to create an artificial market for products that no honest advisor would sell.

shutterstock_120115444-300x198Current Berthel, Fisher & Company Financial Services, Inc. (Berthel Fisher) broker Jonathan Pyne (Pyne) has been subject to five customer complaints.  According to a BrokerCheck provided by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the primary regulator for securities broker dealers, many of the complaints concern alternative investments.  Alternative investments include a group of speculative securities such as non-traded real estate investment trusts (Non-Traded REITs), oil & gas programs, equipment leasing, and other direct participation programs.  Our firm has experience handling investor losses caused by these products.

In July 2017 a customer filed a complaint trying to redeem her investment and is alleging that she was misled by the representative into purchasing an investment that she didn’t know was illiquid.  The claim is currently pending.

In September 2016 another customer filed a complaint alleging that the investments she purchased in 2008 and 2009 were unsuitable and misrepresented to her by the representative.  The claim was settled for $48,175.

shutterstock_183554579-300x200Our firm is investigating claims made by various regulators and brokerage firms including Axiom Capital Management, Inc. (Axiom) and Financial West Group (FWG) concerning broker Sara Eng (Eng a/k/a Sara Aiping Ng).  Eng is currently associated with brokerage firm Moloney Securities Co., Inc. (Moloney).

The allegations revolve around Eng’s offering of investments to clients.  In October 2015, FWG terminated Eng for cause and allowed Eng to voluntarily resign after allegations were made that   Eng was being placed on heightened supervision for potential violation of firm policy regarding marketing of investments to firm customers.  Thereafter, in September 2016, Axiom terminated Eng for cause for violation of the firm’s policies and procedures regarding email correspondence.  At the same time The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) opened its own investigation into Eng concerning Axiom’s disclosures for Eng’s termination.  At this time it is unclear the exact nature and extent of the investigation.

Eng entered the securities industry in 1997.  From November 2002 until March 2014, Eng was associated with Berthel, Fisher & Company Financial Services, Inc.  From February 2014 until November 2015, Eng was associated with FWG.  From October 2015 until September 2016, Eng was registered with Axiom.  Finally, since November 2016 Eng  has been registered with Moloney out of the firm’s Oak Brook, Illinois and Flushing, New York office locations.

shutterstock_52426963The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) brought and enforcement action against broker Donald Levin (Levin) (FINRA No. 2014040335101) alleging that between December and April 2014, Levin hosted a weekly radio show and during that show he made statements that were unbalanced, promissory, misleading and lacked reasonable basis in violation of the FINRA Rules. According to Levin’s BrokerCheck records Levin also has a long and troubled history of customer complaints, regulatory actions, and employment separations. In September 2012, FINRA accepted an settlement with Levin where he accepted the entry of findings that Levin made unwarranted and misleading statements on his weekly radio show. At that time Levin agreed to accept a five month suspension and a $30.000 fine. Going back to December 2008, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued a cease and desist order to Levin fining him $25,000 for his violations in the offering and selling mutual fund class A shares to retail customers without adequate disclosure of material information about the availability of breakpoint discounts for which customers could have qualified.

In addition to the regulatory actions, Levin has approximately 15 customer complaints filed against him dating back to 1999. The customer complaints allege a host of securities laws violations concerning a variety of investment products. Some of the more recent complaints allege that Levin failed to conduct due diligence in private placement securities some of which include oil & gas private placements. In another customer complaint, the customer alleged that he was induced to take out a home equity loan in order to purchase securities and suffered losses of $440,000 as a result. Other investor complaints involve alternative investments and mutual funds.

Levin first became associated with a FINRA member in 1980. From 2004 until June 2012, Levin was a registered representative of Milkie/Ferguson Investments, Inc. Thereafter, from June 2012, until September 2012, Levin was associated with Berthel, Fisher & Company Financial Services, Inc. Finally, from January 2014, unitl August 2014, Levin was a registered representative of Titan Securities.

shutterstock_187532306According to the records kept by the State of Florida, Office of Financial Regulation brokerage firm J.P. Turner & Company, L.L.C., (JP Turner) was sanctioned (Administrative Proceeding: 0757-S-12/13) concerning allegations that the firm’s broker, John McGriskin (McGriskin) engaged in mutual fund switching, a form of churning, in client accounts.

From December 2002, until May 9, 2013, McGriskin was an associated person of JP Turner and worked out of the branch located in Palm Coast, Florida, in his home. According to Florida, McGriskin typically purchased Class A shares for his clients. Class A shares of mutual funds come with high front-end sales charges. Florida found that McGriskin sold Class A shares of one mutual fund company and used the proceeds to purchase Class A shares of another mutual fund company resulting in McGriskin’s clients being subject to additional front-end sales charges on those transactions.

In addition, many mutual fund families offer “breakpoint” discounts for total investment amounts equaling certain minimum thresholds across multiple funds with the same fund family. However, Florida found that McGriskin made six mutual fund switching transactions which were not in the same mutual fund family or issuer from August through December of 2010, thirty-six mutual fund switching transactions which were not in the same mutual fund family or issuer in 2011, thirty-seven mutual fund switching transactions which were not in the same mutual fund family or issuer in 2012, and thirty-six mutual fund switching transactions which were not in the same mutual fund family or issuer from January through May of 2013.

shutterstock_175000886According to the BrokerCheck records kept by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker John Notman (Notman) has been the subject to an astonishing 31 customer complaints along with two firm terminations for cause. The customer complaints against Notman allege a number of securities law violations including that the broker made unsuitable investments and misrepresentations and false statements among other claims. Many of the complaints involve Notman’s sales of tenants-in-common (TICs). These claims along alleged combined investor losses of well over $20,000,000.

Notman entered the securities industry in 1982. From March 2003, until September 2012, Notman was registered with Berthel, Fisher & Company Financial Services, Inc (Berthel Fisher). In September 2012, Berthel Fisher filed a notice of termination Form U-5 stating that the reason for terminating Notman from the firm was due to his failure to report certain financial disclosures.

As a background, TICs largely been sold unfairly as tax advantaged products that allow customers to defer capital gains taxes on appreciated real estate. TICs are private placements that have no secondary trading market and are therefore illiquid investments. In a typical TIC, the investor receives a fractional interest in the property along with other stakeholders and the profits are generated mostly through the efforts of the sponsor and the management company that manages and leases the property. The sponsor typically structures the TIC investment with up-front fees and expenses charged to the TIC and negotiates the sale price and loan for the acquired property. Because these fees are often higher than 15%, there is often no way for the investment to be profitable for the investor.

shutterstock_24531604According to the BrokerCheck records kept by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker Jerry McCutchen (McCutchen) has been the subject of at least 15 customer complaints and one judgment or lien. The customer complaints against McCutchen allege a number of securities law violations including that the broker made unsuitable investments, negligence, and misrepresentations among other claims.

The claims against McCutchen involve various investments including equipment leasing, non-traded real estate investment trusts (Non-Traded REITs), and variable annuities. We have written many times about the investing dangers of these products. One quality all of these investments have in common is the fact that they come with high commissions for the broker and low probability of success for the client. Our firm has written numerous times about investor losses in these programs such as equipment leasing programs like LEAF Equipment Leasing Income Funds I-IV and ICON Leasing Funds Eleven and Twelve. The costs and fees associated with all of these investments cause the security to be so costly that significant returns are virtual impossibility. Yet, investors are in no way compensated for the additional risks of these products.

In a typical equipment leasing program upfront fees are around 20-25% of investor’s capital. As for Non-Traded REITs, it was reported in the Wall Street Journal, that a study on “Nontraded REITs are costing investors, especially elderly, retired, unsophisticated investors, billions. They’re suffering illiquidity and ignorance, and earning much less than what they ought to be earning.” In conclusion, “No brokerage should be allowed to sell these things.”