Articles Tagged with Cetera Advisors

shutterstock_77335852-300x225According to BrokerCheck records financial advisor Stephen Carver (Carver), formerly employed by Lifemark Securities Corp. (Lifemark Securities) and Cetera Advisors LLC (Cetera Advisors) has been subject to at least two customer complaints, one regulatory complaint, three employment terminations for cause, and three tax liens.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), most of Carver’s customer complaints allege that Carver made unsuitable recommendations in a variety of securities including alternative investments such as REITs.

In January 2019 FINRA brought a complaint against Carver alleging that he willfully failed to timely amend his Form U4 to disclose three unsatisfied Internal Revenue Service tax liens totaling approximately $92,000 that were filed against him. FINRA claims that Carver also falsely attested to his member firm on an annual compliance questionnaire that he was in compliance with FINRA’s Form U4 disclosure requirements.  The regulatory complaint is currently pending.

In October 2018 a customer brought a complaint against Carver alleging the broker violated the securities laws by committing elder abuse.  The claim alleged $9.3 million in damages and is currently pending.

In September 2017 Cetera Advisors discharged Carver claiming that he violated firm policy by not disclosing gifts from a client.

Continue Reading

shutterstock_112866430-300x199According to BrokerCheck records financial advisor Travis Hughes (Hughes), currently employed by Cetera Advisors LLC (Cetera) has been subject to twelve customer complaints and one employment termination for cause during his career.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the many of the customer complaints against Hughes concern allegations over variable annuity sales practices and non traded real estate investment trusts (Non-Traded REITs).

In August 2008 Hughes was terminated by AXA Advisors, LLC (AXA) after the firm alleged that Hughes failed to follow compliance procedures and policies after the broker was placed on enhanced supervision by the firm.

In August 2018 a client complained that Hughes violated the securities laws by recommending Non-Traded REITs.  The customer alleged $18,253 in damages.  The claim is currently pending.

In January 2017 a client complained that Hughes violated the securities laws by recommending unsuitable investments between 2011 and 2013.  The customer alleged $85,000 in damages.  The claim settled for $37,500.

Continue Reading

shutterstock_64859686-300x300Advisor Donna Hines (Hines), currently employed by Cetera Advisors LLC (Cetera) has been subject to at least four customer complaints.  According to a BrokerCheck report the customer complaints concern alternative investments and direct participation products (DPPs) such as non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs), oil & gas programs, annuities, and equipment leasing programs.  The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP have extensive experience handling investor losses caused by these types of products.

In June 2018 a customer filed a complaint alleging that Hines violated the securities laws by alleging unsuitable investments from 2005 through 2018 and negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, misrepresentations, and common law fraud concerning alternative investments.  The claim alleged $142,026 in damages and the claim is currently pending.

In December 2015 a customer filed a complaint alleging that Hines violated the securities laws by alleging negligence, misrepresentations, concerning alternative investments.  The claim alleged $340,000 in damages and settled for $100,000.

Continue Reading

shutterstock_158028338-300x298According to BrokerCheck records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) former advisor Scott Kozak (Kozak), formerly associated with Cetera Advisors LLC (Cetera) in Highlands Ranch, Colorado has been accused by his former firm and barred by FINRA over unapproved securities.  In addition, Kozak has four customer complaints on his record.

In May 2018 FINRA filed a notice of investigation stating that FINRA has made a preliminary determination to recommend disciplinary action be brought against Kozak for potential violations of engaging in private securities transactions and outside business activities for the period July 2011 to March 2017, without prior notice to or approval from his member firm, Cetera Advisors.

Thereafter, in July 2018 Cetera terminated Kozak stating that he violated policies concerning personal securities transactions.

At this time it is unclear the nature or scope of the alleged outside business activities (OBAs) and private securities transactions.  Kozak’s public disclosures list several OBAs including Kozak & Associates – his securities d/b/a, K&A Charities – a charitable arm of Kozak & Associates, IGC, LLC – a manufacturing company that he owns, and Dominican Home Health agency – where Kozak serves as a board member.  It is unknown if FINRA’s claims relate to any of these entities.

Continue Reading

shutterstock_76996033-300x200Former Cetera Advisors LLC (Cetera Advisors) advisor Nina Jessee (Jessee) has been subject to at least 21 customer complaints and one employment termination for cause.  According to a BrokerCheck report many of the customer complaints concern variable annuities or alternative investments and direct participation products (DPPs) such as non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs), oil & gas programs, annuities, and equipment leasing programs.  The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP have extensive experience handling investor losses caused by these types of products.

In November 2017, Cetera Advisors allowed Jessee to resign. However, Cetera did disclose that Jessee was found to violate the firm’s policies concerning disclosing outside business activities with the firm prior to engaging in such activities.

Jessee stated that she did not contribute to any of these settlements.

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.

Continue Reading

shutterstock_178801067-300x200Since the beginning of 2017 broker Abraham Heimann (Heimann) has subject to three customer complaints alleging millions in damages.  Heimann left his last employer Cetera Advisors LLC (Cetera) in February 2016.  According BrokerCheck the customer complaints allege breach of fiduciary duty, unsuitable investments, negligence, and failure to diversify the portfolio, among other claims.

The most recent complaint was filed in April 2017 and alleges breach of fiduciary duty, negligence, and failure to diversify the portfolio and claims $30,000 in damages.  The claim is currently pending.  In March 2017 a customer filed a complaint alleging $2,000,000 in damages due to breach of fiduciary duty and negligence.  The complaint is currently pending.  The securities lawyers of Gana Weinstein LLP continue to investigate the customer complaint against Heimann.

Brokers have a responsibility treat investors fairly which includes obligations such as making only suitable investments for the client.  In order to make a suitable recommendation the broker must meet certain requirements.  First, there must be reasonable basis for the recommendation the product or security based upon the broker’s investigation and due diligence into the investment’s properties including its benefits, risks, tax consequences, and other relevant factors.  Second, the broker then must match the investment as being appropriate for the customer’s specific investment needs and objectives such as the client’s retirement status, long or short term goals, age, disability, income needs, or any other relevant factor.

shutterstock_156562427-300x200Broker Daniel Vazquez (Vazquez) was recently sanctioned by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) in an enforcement action that resulted in a permanent bar from the securities industry.  According to the FINRA AWC (Letter of Acceptance, Waiver, and Consent) FINRA found that Vazquez failed to request termination of his suspension within three months of the date of the suspension and was automatically barred from association with any FINRA member in any capacity.

The securities lawyers of Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating the six customer complaints brought against Vazquez. In addition, Vazquez has one judgment or lien.  The customer complaints allege a number of securities law violations including that the broker made unsuitable investments, misrepresentations, an unauthorized trading among other claims.

The most recent claim was filed in December 2016 alleging Vazquez engaged in unsuitable trades causing $1,500,000 in damages.  The complaint is currently pending.  In August 2016 another investor filed a complaint alleging investment losses from trades made with Vazquez through two firms from 2013-2016 that were unsuitable.  The claim alleges $107,392.85 in damages and is currently pending.

shutterstock_120556300-300x300Our firm is investigating claims made by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) when the regulator barred broker Ken Balser (Balser).  According to FINRA settlement, Balser consented to sanctions that he refused to appear for testimony and provide documents and information to FINRA concerning allegations that he engaged in private securities transactions.

In July 2016, Cetera Advisors LLC (Cetera) discharged Balser for cause alleging that Balser engaged in private securities transactions.

According to Balser’s brokercheck records Balser has at least three disclosed outside business activities.  These activities include a d/b/a Secure Wealth Management.  In addition, Balser disclosed a fixed insurance business and Dave Ramsey Radio Show Sponsor.  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.

shutterstock_115971289The investment attorneys of Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating investor claims of unsuitable investments in oil and gas related products. Our firm is currently representing a number of investors who lost substantial savings due to poor advice to concentrate holdings in speculative commodities investments like master limited partnerships (MLPs). According to Brokercheck records, George Merhoff (Merhoff) with Cetera Advisors LLC (Cetera) has recently received at least one customer complaint alleging overconcentrated positions in oil and gas equities.

One of the most popular energy related investments that have become increasingly popular in the brokerage industry in recent years are MLPs. MLPs are publicly traded partnerships. About 86% of the total MLP securities market, a $490 billion sector, can be attributed to energy and natural resource companies. There are about 130 MLPs trading on major exchanges that focus on energy related industries and natural resources.

Wall Street loves MLPs because they provide high yields to investors and require companies to pay Wall Street in order to continue to grow. In 2013 banks earned fees of $890.3 million from MLP issuance.   Bloomberg quoted an analyst stating that “MLPs are Wall Street’s dream,” because “[t]hey’re fee machines.” Naturally, in order to entice investors to continue to invest in MLPs Wall Street pumps up MLPs every chance they get. According to Bloomberg, in May 2014 “[a]nalysts predict that 93 of the 114 MLPs in existence will rise in value in the next year…” Astonishingly, “all but five MLPs are recommended by the majority of the analysts who cover them.” At that time professionals without conflicts called MLPs “the next great investment debacle” and warned that “many MLP shareholders…may not understand what they’ve gotten into.”

shutterstock_152149322The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) barred former Cetera Advisors LLC (Cetera) broker Bruce Sabourin (Sabourin) after the broker failed to respond to a letter from the regulator requesting information. While the BrokerCheck records kept by FINRA do not disclose the nature of the regulatory inquiry, in May 2014, Sabourin was terminated by Cetera for cause stating that the broker was terminated for excessive trading in client accounts and potential exercise of discretionary authority without written authorization.

According to the BrokerCheck records Sabourin has been the subject of at least four customer complaints, one employment separation, one regulatory action, and one criminal matter. The customer complaints against Sabourin allege a number of securities law violations including that the broker made unsuitable investments, unauthorized trading, and churning (excessive trading) among other claims.

Sabourin entered the securities industry in 1994. From August 2001, until September 2009, Sabourin was associated with Investors Capital Corp. Thereafter, from September 2009, until February 2011, Sabourin was registered as a broker with MetLife Securities Inc. Thereafter, Sabourin was associated with Sterne Agee Financial Services, Inc. from February 2011, until December 2012. Finally, Sabourin was associated with Cetera from November 2012, until May 2014.