Articles Tagged with investment lawyer

shutterstock_62862913-259x300The investment fraud attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are currently investigating Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC (Wells Fargo) broker Peter Malis (Malis). According to BrokerCheck Records kept by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). According to BrokerCheck Records, Malis has been subject to five customer disputes, the majority concerning unsuitable investments in mutual funds, municipal bonds, and limited partnerships.

Most recently, in December 2017, a customer alleged that from February 2006 to December 2016, Malis placed the customer in unsuitable investments and executed trades in the account without the customer’s consent.

In September 2016, a customer alleged that from March 2002 to January 2016, Malis placed the customer in unsuitable investments and engaged in unauthorized trades and churning of the account. The case was settled at $1,100,000.

In May 1995, a customer alleged that Malis placed the customer in unsuitable mutual funds and limited partnerships. The case was settled at $12,500.

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shutterstock_132704474-300x200The securities attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are currently investigating previously registered broker Keith Singer (Singer). According to BrokerCheck Records kept by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Singer has been subject to two customer disputes, one of which is still pending. The majority of these complaints involve the execution of unauthorized trades and misrepresentation of investments. In addition, Singer has been subject to termination from employment.

In January 2018, a customer alleged that Singer misrepresented the features and nature of an investment that he recommended to the customer, and that placement in this investment was not authorized by the customer. The customer is currently seeking $25,000 in damages. This dispute is still pending.

In October 2003, a customer alleged that Singer placed trades in the customer account that were not authorized prior to the trades.

In addition, Singer has been subject to termination from employment. In April 2018, Investacorp, Inc. terminated Singer for his failure to be in compliance with the firm’s rules and policies.

False representations include statements that omit or misrepresent information that is material to an investor.  Industry rules require representations to investors to be balanced in light of all the information being provided to the investor. In other words, an advisers is prohibited from only listing the positive aspects of a security without disclosing downside risk and negative features or otherwise present the security in an unbalanced or unfair manner. An intentional omission of material information concerning an investment can also be a basis for a fraud claim. Continue Reading

shutterstock_184430645-300x225The investment fraud attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are currently investigating American Portfolios Financial Services, Inc. (American Portfolios) broker Jimmy Kuhn (Kuhn). According to BrokerCheck Records kept by the Financial Industry Regulative Authority (FINRA), Kuhn has been subject to four customer disputes. The majority of these concern unsuitable investments, breach of fiduciary duty, and excessive use of margin.

In January 2018, a customer alleged that Kuhn had breached his fiduciary duties, and had placed the customer in unsuitable investments. This case was settled at $70,000.

In December 2015, a customer alleged that Kuhn had breached fiduciary duties, placed the customer into unsuitable investments, misrepresented the investments, and executed unauthorized trades in the account. The dispute was settled at $60,000.

In November 2008, a customer alleged that his margin account was much larger than he had authorized, and that this excessive use of margin led to great damages in his account. The dispute was settled at $150,000.

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shutterstock_20354401-300x200The investment attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating a customer complaint against Garden State Securities broker Dave Nicolas (Nicolas).

According to BrokerCheck records kept by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), A customer alleged in June 2016 that Nicolas engaged in unsuitable investments and churning and alleged failure to supervise on the part of Garden State Securities, Inc.

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_113872627-300x300The financial advisor rating firm Paladin Research & Registry assembled a list of the top 10 investment scams investors are facing today. If you are involved in any of these potential scams, the investment attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP may be able to help you.

1. Ponzi Schemes

Ponzi schemes came in first-place for having stolen more money than any other type of scam. A Ponzi scheme is a fraudulent investment scam where the scammer promises a high rate of return with little or no risk to investors. Ponzi schemes generate returns for investors by acquiring new investors. This is similar to a pyramid scheme in that both are based on using new investors’ funds to pay the earlier backers. The Ponzi scheme unravels when no more new investors are willing to invest and older investors demand the return of their money. The nature of Ponzi schemes (or pyramid schemes) requires investors (who believe they have a strong investment) to tell friends, family and associates about the investments. The influx of new investors provides scam operators with the assets needed to meet the withdrawal requests of the early investors.

shutterstock_95643673-300x300Since the beginning of 2010 broker John Hudson (Hudson), currently employed by Next Financial Group, Inc. (Next Financial), racked up eight total tax liens and other debts.  Some of these tax liens are quite large including on in September 2010 for $1,492,190.  According to BrokerCheck this tax lien is still active and hasn’t been satisfied.  While no customer complaints have been filed against Hudson and the presence of large liens does not necessarily mean that the broker will engage in risky behavior it is an important red flag for investors to consider.  The risk is that the broker will be influenced to recommend high commission products or trading strategies to satisfy the liens at investors’ expense.  In extreme cases brokers have even misappropriated funds or asked clients for loans to satisfy their personal debts.  There is no indication that any wrongdoing has occurred in Hudson’s case.

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.

According to newsources, only about 7.3% of financial advisors have any type of disclosure event on their records among brokers employed from 2005 to 2015.  Brokers must publicly disclose reportable events on their CRD customer complaints, IRS tax liens, judgments, investigations, and even criminal matters.  However, studies have found that there are fraud hotspots such as certain parts of California, New York or Florida, where the rates of disclosure can reach 18% or higher.  Moreover, according to the New York Times, BrokerCheck may be becoming increasing inaccurate and understate broker misconduct as studies have shown that 96.9% of broker requests to clean their records of complaints are granted.

shutterstock_140321293The securities lawyers of Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating a customer complaint filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against broker Nathaniel Clay (Clay).  According to BrokerCheck records Clay has been subject to at least six customer complaint and one employment termination for cause.  The customer complaints against Clay allege securities law violations that including unsuitable investments, churning, excessive trading, and unauthorized trading among other claims.

The most recent complaint was filed in December 2015 alleging $513,218 in damage stemming from unauthorized trading, negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, and misrepresentations.  The complaint is still pending.

Clay’s former brokerage firm National Securities Corporation (National Securities) was recently featured in a study ranking brokerage firms by incidents of misconduct.  According to a study conducted by the Securities Litigation and Consulting Group entitled “How Widespread and Predictable is Stock Broker Misconduct?” the incidents of investor harm at National Securities is extraordinarily high.  The study ranked National Securities as the third worst brokerage firm finding that brokers at the firm had over a 31% misconduct rate.  The study stated that investors should stay away from National Securities “Given their coworkers’ disclosure record as of 2014, 83.7% of the brokers at these six firms would be in the highest risk quintile as defined in the FINRA study and should be avoided by investors. The BrokerCheck reports for most of the brokers at these six firms should prominently display a skull and crossbones warning.”

shutterstock_177792281The securities fraud lawyers of Gana Weinstein 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.

shutterstock_128856874The securities fraud lawyers of Gana Weinstein 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.

shutterstock_43547368The securities fraud lawyers of Gana Weinstein 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.