Articles Tagged with investment fraud lawyer

shutterstock_128856874-300x200The securities attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are currently investigating previously registered broker John James (James). According to BrokerCheck records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), in March 2016, James was discharged  by his firm, Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated (Merrill Lynch) based on allegations that James was engaging in outside business activities, private investments, and borrowing money from clients without disclosing the activities to the firm.  Subsequently, in September 2016, James was also discharged from Stifel Nicolaus for providing inaccurate information on his employment application (U5) regarding the status of an internal inquiry at his prior firm, Merrill Lynch.

In December 2017, FINRA barred James from the industry after James failed to provide FINRA with requested documents and information regarding these allegations and activities.  FINRA sought documents concerning the circumstances surrounding Jones’s termination from his member firm and of certain outside business activities that James was involved in while registered with the firm. After James refused to show up to an on-the-record testimony regarding these allegations, he was barred from the industry for being in violation of F1NRA Rule 8210, James violates FINRA Rules 8210 and 2010.

In addition, James has been subject to one customer complaint. In May 2009, a customer alleged that James recommended unsuitable investments. The case was settled at $160,000 in damages. Continue Reading

shutterstock_66745735-300x200The investment lawyers of Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating the regulatory action brought by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against Sandeep Varma (Varma).  According to BrokerCheck records, Varma has been subject to two regulatory matters in which FINRA sanctioned Varma for various violations of the securities laws. In addition, Varma has been subject to five customer complaints. The majority of these complaints involve the recommendation of unsuitable and misrepresented variable investments including CRTs and life insurance policies.

In January 2018, FINRA found that Varma misrepresented a real-estate planning strategy involving Charitable Remainder Trusts (CRTs) to 70 potential customers by providing misleading claims about the nature of deferred capital gains taxes, risks, and rewards that are involved in CRTs. In addition, Varma recommended that the sale of appreciated assets should be invested into variable annuities and into premiums for an insurance policy. While recommending these investments, Varma failed to disclose that the premium payments for the life insurance policy were dependent on performance of investments in the CRT and that this yielded risk for lapse in the insurance policy. FINRA found that Varma’s positive projection of the performance of investments in the CRT and life insurance policy was exaggerated in a promissory manner because it didn’t disclose the reasonable possibility of negative investment performance. In February 2018, Varma was suspended for 10 days and fined $15,000. Without admitting or denying the findings, Varma consented to the sanctions and to the entry of findings.

Varma has also been subject to numerous customer complaints over the course of his career.  The most recent case was filed in August 2017 and alleged that in 2000, Varma recommended an unsuitable life insurance policy investment to customers. The claim was settled at $350,000.

In January 2016 another customer filed a complaint alleging that from 2002 to 2014, Varma recommended an unsuitable insurance life policy to customers. The claim was settled for $850,000. Continue Reading

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.

In November 2006, a customer alleged that Barcomb had unsuitably advised her to sell a variable annuity to fund the purchase of another variable annuity. The dispute settled at $10,000. Continue Reading

shutterstock_85873471-300x200According to BrokerCheck records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) financial advisor Osbert Haynes (Haynes), currently employed by Laidlaw & Company (UK) Ltd. (Laidlaw), has been subject to two customer complaints, one regulatory action, and six tax liens or judgments.  Most of a Haynes’ customer complaints allege that Haynes made unsuitable recommendations.

In addition, Haynes is subject to large tax liens and civil judgments totaling tens of thousands of dollars.  In September 2014 Haynes disclosed a civil judgment of over $19,000.  The fact that a broker cannot manage his own personal finances is material information for a client to consider.  In addition, an advisor with poor personal finances may be incentivized to sell unsuitable or high commission products that may be recommended to generate high profits for the advisor at the expense of the client.

In August 2017 a customer made allegations unsuitable recommendations and unauthorized trading from 2011 to 2012. The claim alleged $163,886 in damages and is currently pending.

Continue Reading

Accorshutterstock_114775264-300x200ding to BrokerCheck records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) advisor Oscar Francis (Francis), formerly associated with MML Investor Services, LLC (MML) in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, was terminated for cause by MML concerning allegations that he engaged in private securities transactions.  MML stated that Francis’ was “terminated in connection with an investigation into an undisclosed outside business activity, potential selling away and an unauthorized non-securities life insurance transaction.”  In addition, Francis has been subject to three customer complaints concerning unapproved investments.  Further, in April 2017, the Department of Justice opened an investigation into Francis’ investment activities.

At this time it is unclear the extent and nature of the outside business activities or private securities transactions that occurred.  The allegations concerning private securities transactions is a practice known in the industry as “selling away” – a serious violation of the securities laws.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

shutterstock_70999552-300x200The investment attorneys at Gana Weinstein 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.

Continue Reading

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”.

Continue Reading

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 Weinstein 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.

Continue Reading

shutterstock_70999552-300x200The securities lawyers of Gana Weinstein 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.

Continue Reading