Articles Tagged with Fraud

shutterstock_178801073According to the BrokerCheck records kept by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker Joseph Fedorko (Fedorko) has been the subject of an astonishing 16 customer complaints. The customer complaints against Fedorko allege securities law violations that claim churning and excessive trading, unsuitable investments, unauthorized trading, fraud, misrepresentations, and breach of fiduciary duty among other claims. The most recent complaint was filed in March 2014, and alleged $292,771 in losses due to an unsuitable investment strategy from 2011 until 2013. The case settled for $120,000. Another complaint filed in November 2012, alleged $400,000 in damages stemming from trading that began in 2011. Other complaints against Fedorko when combined allege millions in investor losses.

Fedorko entered the securities industry in 1989. From January 2002, until May 2009, Fedorko was associated with with Oppenheimer & Co. Inc. Presently, Fedorko is associated with Laidlaw & Company (UK) Ltd. out of the firm’s Stamford, Connecticut branch office location.

All advisers have a fundamental responsibility to deal fairly with investors including making suitable investment recommendations. In order to make suitable recommendations the broker must have a reasonable basis for recommending the product or security based upon the broker’s investigation of the investments properties including its benefits, risks, tax consequences, and other relevant factors. In addition, the broker must also understand the customer’s specific investment objectives to determine whether or not the specific product or security being recommended is appropriate for the customer based upon their needs.

shutterstock_95643673According to the BrokerCheck records kept by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker Timothy Wynne (Wynne) has been the subject of at least 5 customer complaints. The customer complaints against Wynne allege securities law violations that claim churning and excessive trading, unsuitable investments, unauthorized trading, fraud, misrepresentations, and discretionary trading among other claims. The most recent complaint was filed in October 2014, and alleged $500,000 in losses due to churning and excessive commission charges from February 2012 through October 2014. Another complaint filed in July 2014, alleged over $3.3 million in damages caused by unsuitable discretionary trading. Another complaint also filed in July 2014 alleged unsuitable investments in Monticello MN Telecommunication municipal bonds.

Wynne entered the securities industry in 1986. From January 2002, until February 2012, Wynne was associated with with Oppenheimer & Co. Inc. Presently, Wynne is associated with Feltl & Company out of the firm’s Minneapolis, Minnesota branch office location.

Churning is investment trading activity in the client’s account that serves no reasonable purpose for the investor and is transacted solely to profit the broker. The elements to establish a churning claim, which is considered a species of securities fraud, 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.

shutterstock_20354398According to the BrokerCheck records kept by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker Matthew Giannone (Giannone) has been the subject of at least 6 customer complaints. The customer complaints against Giannone allege securities law violations that claim churning and excessive trading, unsuitable investments, unauthorized trading, fraud, misrepresentations, and inappropriate loans among other claims. The most recent claim filed against Giannone claims $1,200,000 in damages due to churning and an inappropriate loan. The complaint was denied and closed.

Giannone entered the securities industry in 1997. From June 1997, until June 2005, Giannone was associated with Citigroup Global Markets Inc. From May 2005, until March 2013, Giannone was associated with Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated. Finally, since May 2013, Giannone has been registered with Oppenheimer & Co. Inc. out of the firm’s New York, New York branch office location.

Churning is investment trading activity in the client’s account that serves no reasonable purpose for the investor and is transacted solely to profit the broker. The elements to establish a churning claim, which is considered a species of securities fraud, 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.

shutterstock_20354401According to the BrokerCheck records kept by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker Robert Gill (Gill) has been the subject of at least 9 customer complaints, 2 criminal matters, 2 employment terminations, and 5 regulatory complaints. The customer complaints against Gill allege securities law violations that claim churning and excessive trading, unsuitable investments, breach of fiduciary duty, unauthorized trading, fraud, and misrepresentations among other claims. Gill’s first employment separation in 2003 from Grayson Financial LLC alleged that Gill abused margin, failed to execute trades, engaged in unauthorized trades, and misappropriated firm information. Gill’s second firm termination in October 2013 was due to allegation by J.P. Turner & Company LLC (JP Turner) that Gill borrowed money from a client without prior firm approval.

FINRA’s action against Gill involves the circumstances alleged by JP Turner. FINRA sanctioned Gill by suspending the broker and imposing a fine for allegations involving a loan for $100,000 that he received from a firm customer.

Gill entered the securities industry in 1996. From April 2003, until October 2013, Gill was associated with JP Turner. Since November 2013 Gill has been associated with Chelsea Financial Services out of the firm’s Tinton Falls, New Jersey branch office location.

shutterstock_174922268According to the BrokerCheck records kept by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker Donald Fowler (Fowler) has been the subject of at least 10 customer complaints. The customer complaints against Fowler allege securities law violations that claim churning and excessive trading, unsuitable investments, breach of fiduciary duty, unauthorized trading, fraud, overconcentration, purchasing securities on margin, and misrepresentations among other claims.   At least three of the complaints have been filed in 2015 alone. One complaint alleged that Fowler caused $419,372 in damages.

Fowler entered the securities industry in 2005. From September 2005 until February 2007, Fowler was associated with American Capital Partners, LLC. From January 2007, until November 2014, Fowler was associated with J.D. Nicholas & Associated, Inc. Since November 2014, Fowler has been associated with Worden Capital Management LLC out of the firm’s Garden City, New York office location.

Churning is investment trading activity in the client’s account that serves no reasonable purpose for the investor and is transacted solely to profit the broker. The elements to establish a churning claim, which is considered a species of securities fraud, 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.

shutterstock_115937266According to the BrokerCheck records kept by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker Salvatore Pizzimenti (Pizzimenti) has been the subject of at least 4 customer complaints. Customers have filed complaints against Pizzimenti alleging securities law violations including claims of churning and excessive trading, unsuitable investments, excessive commissions, unauthorized trading, breach of fiduciary duty, and fraud among other claims. In 2013, a customer complained that Pizzimenti churned their account causing $500,000 in damages. In August 2012, another customer also complained that Pizzimenti recommended a high risk private placement and also charged excessive fees causing $1,000,000 in damages.

Pizzimenti entered the securities industry in 2004. From January 2007, until January 2009, Pizzimenti was registered with Pointe Capital, Inc. From January 2009, until February 2010, Pizzimenti was associated with National Securities Corporation. From February 2010, until August 2011, Pizzimenti was a registered representative of J.P. Turner & Company, L.L.C. Since August 2011, Pizzimenti has been associated with Legend Securities, Inc. out of the firm’s New York, New York office location.

All advisers have a fundamental responsibility to deal fairly with investors including making suitable investment recommendations. In order to make suitable recommendations the broker must have a reasonable basis for recommending the product or security based upon the broker’s investigation of the investments properties including its benefits, risks, tax consequences, and other relevant factors. In addition, the broker must also understand the customer’s specific investment objectives to determine whether or not the specific product or security being recommended is appropriate for the customer based upon their needs.

shutterstock_128856874According to the BrokerCheck records kept by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker Michael McDonald (McDonald) has been the subject of at least 5 customer complaints. Customers have filed complaints against McDonald alleging securities law violations including claims of churning and excessive trading, unsuitable investments, excessive commissions, unauthorized trading, breach of fiduciary duty, and fraud among other claims. In 2011, a customer complained that McDonald recommended a private placement leading to $450,000 in damages. In 2008, another customer also complained that McDonald recommended a private placement called Xyience, Inc which caused $450,000 in damages.

McDonald entered the securities industry in 1993. From November 2005, until February 2011, McDonald was registered with JHS Capital Advisors, Inc. Since February 2011, McDonald has been associated with Aegis Capital Corp. out of the firm’s Maitland Florida office location.

All advisers have a fundamental responsibility to deal fairly with investors including making suitable investment recommendations. In order to make suitable recommendations the broker must have a reasonable basis for recommending the product or security based upon the broker’s investigation of the investments properties including its benefits, risks, tax consequences, and other relevant factors. In addition, the broker must also understand the customer’s specific investment objectives to determine whether or not the specific product or security being recommended is appropriate for the customer based upon their needs.

shutterstock_85873471According to the BrokerCheck records kept by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker John Lopinto (Lopinto) has been the subject of at least two customer complaints. The customer complaints against Lopinto allege securities law violations that claim churning and excessive trading, unsuitable investments, excessive commissions, breach of fiduciary duty, and fraud among other claims.  One complaint alleged that Lopinto caused $4,000,000 in damages. In another claim filed the customer alleged $1,000,000 in damages as a result of high risk private placements and account churning.

Lopinto entered the securities industry in 2002. From January 2007 until January 2009, Lopinto was associated with Pointe Capital, Inc. From January 2009 until February 2010, Lopinto was associated with National Securities Corporation. Thereafter, from February 2010, until August 2011, Lopinto was associated with J.P. Turner & Company, L.L.C. Finally, since August 2011 onward Lopinto has been associated with Legend Securities, Inc. out of the firm’s New York, New York office location.

Churning is investment trading activity in the client’s account that serves no reasonable purpose for the investor and is transacted solely to profit the broker. The elements to establish a churning claim, which is considered a species of securities fraud, 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.

shutterstock_153463763According to the BrokerCheck records kept by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker Robert Horning (Horning) has been the subject of at least 8 customer complaints. Customers have filed complaints against Horning alleging a number of securities law violations including that the broker made unsuitable investments, misrepresentations, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, and false statements in connection with recommendations to invest in private placements such as tenants-in-common (TICs) interests, direct participation programs and limited partnerships which include investments like oil & gas, non-traded real estate investment trusts (Non-Traded REITs), and equipment leasing programs.

Horning entered the securities industry in 1993. From November 2004, until July 2009, Horning was a registered representative with Direct Capital Securities, Inc. Thereafter, since July 2009, Horning has been associated with Centaurus Financial, Inc. (Centaurus) out of the firm’s Los Angeles, California office location.

TIC investments have come under fire by many investors. Indeed, due to the failure of the TIC investment strategy as a whole across the securities industry, TIC investments have virtually disappeared as offered investments.   According to InvestmentNews “At the height of the TIC market in 2006, 71 sponsors raised $3.65 billion in equity from TICs and DSTs…TICs now are all but extinct because of the fallout from the credit crisis.” In fact, TICs recommendations have been a major contributor to bankrupting brokerage firms. For example, 43 of the 92 broker-dealers that sold TICs sponsored by DBSI Inc., a company whose executives were later charged with running a Ponzi scheme, a staggering 47% of firms that sold DBSI are no longer in business.

shutterstock_180341738According to the BrokerCheck records kept by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker John Schooler (Schooler) has been hit with at least 26 customer complaints over his career. Customers have filed complaints against Schooler alleging securities law violations including that the broker made unsuitable investments, negligence, misrepresentations, breach of fiduciary duty, violation of blue sky statutes in several states, and fraud among other claims. The claims against Schooler involve various types of securities including private placements, direct participation programs and limited partnerships which include investments like oil & gas, non-traded real estate investment trusts (Non-Traded REITs), equipment leasing programs, and tenants-in-common (TICs). The majority these products are high commission based products that often pay broker commission of between 7-10%. As the research now shows these products are arguably always unsuitable for investors because they do not compensate investors for their substantial risks. See Controversy Over Non-Traded REITs: Should These Products Be Sold to Investors? Part II

Schooler entered the securities industry in 1993. From 1994, until July 2011, Schooler was associated with WFP Securities. From June 2011, until July 2011, Schooler became associated with JRL Capital Corporation. Finally, Since July 2011, Schooler has been associated with First Financial Equity Corporation out of the firm’s Scottdale, Arizona office location.

As a background, a Non-Traded REIT is a security that invests 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. There are publicly traded REITs that are bought and sold on an exchange with similar liquidity to traditional assets like stocks and bonds. However, 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.

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