Articles Tagged with Geneos Wealth Management

shutterstock_89758564-300x200Current Geneos Wealth Management, Inc. (Geneos Wealth) broker Kenneth Ancell (Ancell) has been subject to two 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).  Our firm has experience handling investor losses caused by these products.

In June 2017 customers filed a complaint alleging that in or around 2011, Ancell made unsuitable investment recommendations in REITs and alternative investments causing $744,038 in damages.  The claim is currently pending.

Our firm often handles cases involving direct participation products, private placements, Non-Traded REITs, oil and gas offerings, equipement leasing products, and other alternative investments.  These products are almost always unsuitable for middle class investors.  In addition, the brokers who sell them are paid additional commission in order to hype inferior quality investments providing perverse incentives for brokers to sell high risk and low reward investments.

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shutterstock_54642700-300x200The investment fraud attorneys with Gana LLP are investigating customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against Joseph Sterling (Sterling) currently associated with Geneos Wealth Management, Inc. (Geneos Wealth).  According to brokercheck records Sterling has been subject to three customer complaints.  Two of the most recent complaints involve his conduct concerning direct participation products (DPPs) such as non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs) and potentially other alternative investments.

In August 2017 a customer filed a complaint alleging that Sterling made unsuitable recommendations of real estate securities in 2012 and 2013 and other causes of action.  The customer alleges $290,000 in damages and the claim is currently pending.  Another customer filed a complaint in July 2017 alleging that in 2013 and 2014, Sterling made unsuitable recommendations of real estate securities and other direct investments and other causes of action.  The claim alleged $500,000 in damages and is currently pending.

Our firm has represented many clients in illiquid alternative investments products.  All of these investments come with high costs and have historically underperformed even safe benchmarks, like U.S. treasury bonds.  For example, products like oil and gas partnerships, REITs, and other alternative investments are only appropriate for a narrow band of investors under certain conditions due to the high costs, illiquidity, and huge redemption charges of the products, if they can be redeemed at all.  However, due to the high commissions brokers earn on these products they sell them to investors who cannot profit from them and have created a large market for a failed product.  Further, investor often fail to understand that they have lost money in these illiquid investments until many years after investing.  In sum, for all of their costs and risks, investors in these programs are in no way additionally compensated for the loss of liquidity, risks, or cost.

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shutterstock_78835723-300x198The investment fraud lawyers of Gana LLP are investigating regulatory complaints of broker Thomas Edward Gackle (Gackle). According to the BrokerCheck records kept by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker Thomas Edward Gackle was permanently barred in July 2016 from the securities industry for failing to appear for on-the-record testimony requested by FINRA during the course of an investigation. In addition, the broker has been subject to at least one customer complaint and one employment separation for cause among other claims. The customer complaint against Gackle involve direct participation products (DPPs) such as non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs).

In April 2015, a customer filed a complaint alleging that the amount of income ($100,000.00) stated on the suitability form was invalid and an investment purchased March 2015 caused $1,000,000.00 in damages. This complaint is currently pending.

This customer complaint resulted in Gackle to resign from his position at Lowell & Company in April 2015. This was based on allegations of failure to disclose material levents prior to association with Lowell & Company, which was an order issued by the Kansas Bar for the indefinite suspension from practicing law in the state of Kansas. Gackle’s resignation preceded FINRA’s sanctions, barring him from securities industry.

shutterstock_120556300The investment attorneys at Gana LLP are interested in speaking with investors of broker Joseph Sturniolo (Sturniolo). According to the BrokerCheck records kept by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Sturniolo has been the subject of at least 8 customer complaints. The customer complaints against Sturniolo allege securities law violations that including unsuitable investments, misrepresentations, and breach of fiduciary duty among other claims.

The most recent complaint was filed in June 2015, and alleged $400,692 in losses due to a recommendation to invest in a real estate security transaction. Another investor in April 2015, claimed $676,705 in damages due to a real estate security transaction.   Many of the complaints appear to be in connection with in connection with the sales of tenants-in-common (TICs).

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.

TICs have come under fire by many investors and due to the failure of the TICs as a whole across the securities industry. Indeed, TICs 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.

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shutterstock_94632238The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) brought an enforcement action against broker Gary Arford (Arford) resulting in a monetary sanctions of $4,226,684. In addition, according to the BrokerCheck records kept by FINRA, Arford has been the subject of at least 10 customer complaints. The customer complaints against Arford allege unsuitable investments, misrepresentations, and fraud among other claims. Many of the complaints involve products such as oil and gas and penny stocks. Arford was also permitted to resign from Comprehensive Wealth Management, LLC (Comprehensive Wealth Management) after allegations were made that Arford attempted to directly settle a customer complaint. In March 2014, Arford was also terminated from Independent Financial Group, LLC (IFG) after allegations were made that Arford was the subject of customer complaints.

The most recent complaint against Arford alleged $560,000 in damages concerning allegations that Arford as an owner of Comprehensive Wealth Management breach his fiduciary duty by recommending unsuitable oil and gas products from 2011 through 2014 and misrepresented the investments. Another customer complaint filed in September 2014 alleges similar issues with oil and gas and penny stock investment made between 2012 and 2013 which resulted in $500,000 in alleged damages.

In the SEC action, the regulator alleged that between approximately December 2010 and October 2013, Arford acted as an investment adviser to a private fund (Fund) and provided advice for real estate-related investments. The SEC alleged that Arford defrauded the Fund and its investors in at least four ways by: 1) inducing the Fund to commit a total of $4 million to an investment in a company, referred to as Suburban Hotel, that was purportedly planning to build and operate a hotel on undeveloped land in Seattle by misrepresenting and concealing material facts about the company’s debt and the encumbrances; 2) after obtaining the Fund’s investment commitment Respondent took personal ownership of the company’s undeveloped property, and then pledged it as collateral for personal debts; 3) inducing the Fund to continue fulfilling its investment commitment by concealing his personal ownership and use of the company’s undeveloped property and by misrepresenting and hiding material facts about the use of Fund assets; and 4) by misappropriating Fund assets for unrelated purposes.

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