Articles Tagged with investment fraud lawyer

shutterstock_174495761-300x200According to BrokerCheck records kept by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), broker Brent Van Lott (Lott) is being investigated for allegedly violating FINRA rules.  Lott has also been subject to three customer disputes.

In January 2016, a customer alleged Lott initiated trades without the customer’s written consent.  This dispute was settled for $50,000.

In March 2014, a customer alleged that a third party, acting in concert with Lott, forged the customer’s signature on contracts to acquire insurance policies.  This dispute is pending.

In another pending dispute from December 2013, a customer alleged that he never met Lott who was listed as the selling agent for his contracts.  The customer also alleged that Lott may be aware that the signatures on the contract delivery receipts are not those of the customer.

In October 2014, Lott was terminated from LPL Financial LLC for allegedly submitting equity indexed annuity applications without meeting or discussing them with clients as well as allegedly violating the firm’s document signature policy.

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shutterstock_70999552-300x200The investment attorneys at Gana LLP are investigating claims against broker Lyle Boudreaux (Boudreaux). According to BrokerCheck records, Boudreaux has received three customer complaints. Additionally, Boudreaux was terminated from Merrill Lynch in 2012.

In October 2017, a customer allegedly suffered losses in an advisory account due to an allegedly inappropriate investment.

In April 2017, a customer alleged breach of contract, violation of state securities laws, and negligence. The customer is seeking $100,000 in this pending dispute.

In January 2017, a customer allegedly suffered losses as a result of an exchange-traded fund position in an advisory account. This dispute settled for $80,000.

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shutterstock_54385804-300x200According to BrokerCheck records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) advisor Christopher Wendel (Wendel), in September 2017, was terminated by his firm, SA Stone Wealth Management Inc. (SA Stone Wealth) based on allegations that Wendel violated the firm’s policy on selling away.  In addition, Wendel has five customer complaints on his record.  The latest customer complaint occurred in May 2013 and alleged that the customer was sold in unsuitable REITs.  The claim alleged $171,000 in damages and was settled.

At this time it is unclear the extent and scope of Wendel’s private securities activities.  Wendel’s CRD lists that he is engaged in an outside business activity called Smoke on the Water LLC.

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”.

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shutterstock_170709014-225x300Customers have filed complaints and The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) recently barred broker John Hudnall (Hudnall) – formerly with U.S. BanCorp Investments, Inc. (U.S. BanCorp). The securities attorneys at Gana LLP are investing the allegations against Hudnall including unsuitable investments among other claims.  According to brokercheck records Hudnall has been subject to six customer complaints and one criminal matter.  Many of the complaints involve direct participation products (DPPs) and variable annuities such as non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs) and other alternative investments.

In FINRA’s complaint against Hudnall it was alleged that he participated in an undisclosed and unapproved private securities transaction by selling a REIT investment to an elderly customer which he split into two simultaneous transactions of $40,000 and $360,000. FINRA alleged that Hudnall did this to circumvent his firm’s supervisory review of such a large transaction of this kind.  According to FINRA, the $400,000 REIT investment exceeded the firm’s supervisory thresholds and would have triggered additional supervisory review and likely would have been disapproved. FINRA also alleged that Hudnall made a promotional offer in which he promised to pay certain customers who purchased fixed annuities 1% annual interest if they held their fixed annuities for at least a year, when in fact this offer was not part of the fixed annuity product that he was selling.

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shutterstock_70999552-300x200The securities lawyers of Gana LLP are investigating customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against broker Scott Palmer (Palmer). According to BrokerCheck records, Palmer is subject to at least five customer complaints. The customer complaints against Palmer allege securities law violations that claim unsuitable investments, excessive options trading, and unauthorized investments among other claims.

The most recent complaint was filed in July 2016, and alleged $125,000 in damages due to claims that the broker made unsuitable investments in clients account while employed at Janney Montgomery Scott LLC. The complaint was settled for $75,000.

In January 2015, another customer brought a complaint against Palmer alleging that investments in the customer’s account were unsuitable based on clients’ investment objectives causing alleged damages of $226,877. The complaint was settled for $70,000.

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shutterstock_177792281The securities fraud lawyers of Gana LLP are investigating a regulatory complaint (Disciplinary No. 2015043159501) filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) against broker Kevin Murphy (Murphy). FINRA alleged that in or about November 2013, Murphy sold $1.2 million of shares and warrants in a private placement to four individuals and one limited partnership without his firm’s knowledge.

According to FINRA, in August and September, 2013, Murphy made a $1.2 million investment in a private placement for which TGP Securities, Inc. (TGP), Murphy’s brokerage firm, was providing brokerage services. In return for his investment, FINRA found that Murphy received two stock certificates totaling 600,000 Series F shares and two warrants exercisable for 300,000 common shares. On November 29, 2013, FINRA alleged that Murphy resold the Series F shares and the warrants to four individuals and one limited partnership for $1.2 million without the permission of TGP.

In the industry the term selling away refers to when a financial advisor solicits investments in companies, promissory notes, or other securities that are not pre-approved by the broker’s affiliated firm. However, even though when these incidents occur the brokerage firm claims ignorance of their advisor’s activities the firm is obligated under the FINRA rules to properly monitor and supervise its employees in order to detect and prevent brokers from offering investments in this fashion. In order to properly supervise their brokers each firm is required to have procedures in order to monitor the activities of each advisor’s activities and interaction with the public. Selling away misconduct often occurs where brokerage firms either fail to put in place a reasonable supervisory system or fail to actually implement that system. Supervisory failures allow brokers to engage in unsupervised misconduct that can include all manner improper conduct including selling away.

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shutterstock_128856874The securities fraud lawyers of Gana LLP are investigating a regulatory complaint (Disciplinary No. 1013038289101) filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) against broker James Nixon (Nixon). FINRA alleged that Nixon failed to provide prior written notice to Bridge Capital Associates, Inc. (Bridge Capital), his then employing brokerage firm, before selling $600,000 of convertible promissory notes – practice referred to as “selling away” in the industry. FINRA found that Nixon provided detailed written notice to Bridge Capital only after he had already disseminated investor presentations to approximately 40 potential investors and completed sales to three accredited investor. In addition, FINRA alleged that Nixon provided investor presentations that contained exaggerated and misleading statements about the issuer of the promissory notes, by the initials BRT, and failed to include a meaningful risk disclosure.

Nixon entered the securities industry in 1987. Nixon was registered with Bridge Capital Associates since December 2007 until September 2013, when Bridge Capital discharged Nixon in connection with the conduct concerning FINRA’s allegations. Shortly after Bridge Capital terminated his registrations Nixon became registered with a different firm, Source Capital Group, Inc. out of the firm’s Westport, Connecticut office location.

FINRA found that the promissory notes were offered without a PPM and that instead the notes were offered through an investor PowerPoint presentation that Nixon prepared in conjunction with the issuer. FINRA found that the investor presentation was devoid of any cautionary language specific to the promissory notes and that the prospects for notes were presented in very optimistic terms and stated financial projections at aggressive multiples without sources or support for such representations. FINRA found these representations to violate its communications rules.

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shutterstock_43547368The securities fraud lawyers of Gana LLP are investigating the regulatory action filed (Disciplinary Action No. 2014043025701) by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) against broker Carlos Benavidez Jr (Benavidez). According to the allegations, between January 2013 and January 2015, Benavidez exercised discretion in 80 customer accounts without obtaining prior written authorization from the customers while with brokerage firm Waddell & Reed.

FINRA found that beginning in or about December 2009, Benavidez and two other representatives registered with Waddell & Reed, formed RBR Group and shared a customer base for their securities business. Between January 2013 and January 2015, FINRA found that Benavidez exercised discretion in effecting hundreds of securities transactions in approximately 80 customer accounts without obtaining written authorization from his customers or Waddell & Reed’s approval.

Also according to FINRA, Benavidez tried to hide the evidence of unauthorized trading by falsifying documents. FINRA found that on or about September 9, 2014, Benavidez and another individual with the firm backdated approximately 26 customer notes that had been created in the firm’s computer program in order to falsely reflect that Benavidez or another member of the RBR Group had conversed with those customers on before the trades were effected when, in fact, it was not until six days later when Benavidez or another individual talked with the 26 customers about the trades that had been effected in their accounts.

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.

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shutterstock_145368937The securities fraud lawyers of Gana LLP are investigating customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) against broker Paul Blum (Blum). According to BrokerCheck records Blum has been the subject of at least eight customer complaints three of which have been filed since 2015. The customer complaints against Blum allege a number of securities law violations including that the broker made unsuitable investments, and excessive trading among other claims.

The most recent customer complaint filed in December 2015 and alleged negligence in recommending the purchase of bonds that defaulted from February 2009 until April 2014 claiming $450,000 in damages. The claim is still pending. In November 2015, another client filed a complaint alleging Blum invested in high yield bonds without consultation between May 2013 and May 2014 resulting in $133,000 in damages. The dispute is currently pending.   In a third complaint filed in November 2015, an investor claimed that Blum invested in appropriate bonds from 2005 through 2015 causing $140,000 in damages. The claim was settled.

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.

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shutterstock_156562427The investment attorneys of Gana LLP are investigating regulatory complaints filed by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) against brokerage firm Finance 500, Inc. (Finance 500) and its employees including William Watson, Robert Hicks, Geoffrey Schiffrin, Paul Savage (Disciplinary Proceedings Nos. 2013038091902, 2013036837802). The complaints largely focus on allegations that the firm failed to supervise the issuance, sales, and trading of various low-priced securities or penny stocks.

According to one of the complaints, FINRA alleged that Finance 500 raised millions for four different penny stock issuers. FINRA alleged that from June 2012 to June 2014 Finance 500 failed to enforce a reasonable supervisory system to review and monitor sales of private placements by its investment banking department in the areas of due diligence, suitability, and marketing materials provided to customers. In addition, FINRA alleged that from March 2013 through June 2014, the firm used or permitted issuers to use, private placement marketing materials that were not fair and balanced and made misleading unsupported statements.

While FINRA’s investigation focused on many areas of securities issuance, one area focused on was the firm’s suitability procedures for private placements which were found to be not reasonable. FINRA stated that Finance 500 did not have an adequate procedures regarding how it would collect the suitability documents from each customer and in some cases the documents that it did collect were incomplete and did not include all requested information. In addition, FINRA found that the firm lacked procedures regarding how and when supervisory approval would be given for a particular customer and at times allowed its supervisory system to be evaded by permitting customers solicited by the firm’s registered representatives to make investments directly with the issuer.

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