Articles Tagged with Merrill Lynch

shutterstock_27597505-300x200According to BrokerCheck records Robert Yahney (Yahney), associated with Merrill Lynch Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated (Merrill Lynch), has been subject to five customer complaints.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Yahney has been accused by customers of unsuitable investment advice and investment strategy and appears to include options recommendations.

The most recent complaint filed in May 2017 alleges $1,000,000 in damages stemming from allegations of unsuitable investment recommendations and misrepresentation from February 2012 to June 2014. The claim is currently pending.  Another claim was filed by a customer in March 2017 alleging unsuitable investment recommendations and misrepresentation from August 2012 to July 2014 causing $300,000 in damages. The claim is currently pending.

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shutterstock_62862913-259x300The investment fraud lawyers of Gana LLP are examining multiple customer disputes filed with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against financial advisor Gregory Pease (Pease). According to BrokerCheck, Pease has a multitude of disclosures concerning: churning, excessive trading, unauthorized trading, unsuitability, and breach of fiduciary duty.

The most recent customer complaint filed against Pease was filed in November 2016. The complaint alleged that during the period between 1998 and 2015, Pease made unsuitable recommendations, misrepresentation, and omission of material facts regarding mutual funds. The alleged damages are unspecified and the case is still pending.

Another customer complaint against Pease was filed in March 2015 and alleged that Pease misrepresented the client’s financial objectives. According the customer, the amount of trades and fees that occurred in the accounts did not properly align with the client’s desires. The alleged damages were worth $13,266.81 and the case was later settled for $10,297.88.

shutterstock_186180719-300x216The investment lawyers of Gana LLP are investigating the allegations made by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against barred broker Clay Hoffman. In June 2016, Hoffman was suspended by FINRA for his alleged failure to respond to FINRA’s request for information. Hoffman was later barred in November 2016 for his alleged failure to respond to multiple requests for documents and information related to an investigation.

Prior to the most recent suspension, Hoffman’s license as a broker was revoked and suspended, according to BrokerCheck. During May 2016, Hoffman alleged failed to pay a $5,000 fine for a previous case, which resulted in the revocation of his license. Additionally, Hoffman’s broker license was suspended during February 2016 due to the findings that allege that Hoffman engaged unauthorized business practices. Allegedly, Hoffman executed discretionary transactions in a customer’s account without any written authorization from the customer or firm.

In April 2015, a customer complaint was filed against Hoffman for alleged misrepresentation, unsuitability, and unauthorized trading. During his employment at SunTrust Investment and Summit Brokerage Services, Hoffman allegedly caused a loss for his client due to the misrepresentation of Mutual Funds. The alleged damages were $234,697.00 and the case settled at $90,000.

shutterstock_94632238-300x214The experienced securities fraud lawyers of Gana LLP are investigating multiple customer disputes filed with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against broker Andrew Bruce Elsoffer (Elsoffer). According to Elsoffer’s FINRA BrokerCheck records, there are several disclosures on his record pertaining to securities fraud, misrepresentation, unsuitability, breach of fiduciary duty, and negligence amongst other allegations.

Elsoffer entered the securities industry in 1994 and was only registered with Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Inc. until November 2011. He is currently employed at Stifel Nicolaus & Co., Inc. since November 2011. He was previously employed at:

• Bank of America (December 2009 – October 2011)

shutterstock_132704474-300x200Gana LLP’s investment fraud attorneys are investigating multiple customer disputes filed with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) again broker Todd Douglas Ryman (Ryman). According to Ryman’s FINRA BrokerCheck records, there are several disclosures on his record pertaining to unauthorized trading, unsuitable trading, misrepresentation of material facts, amongst other allegations.

Ryman entered the securities industry in 1995 and currently employed at Suntrust Investment Services, Inc. since February 2017. He was previously employed at:

• Raymond James & Associates, Inc. (September 2016 – February 2017)
• Deutsche Bank Securities, Inc. (May 2011 – September 2016)
• Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Inc. (October 2009 – May 2011)
• Banc of America Investment Services, Inc. (October 2002 – October 2009)
• UBS Painewebber, Inc. (July 1998 – October 2002)
• Josephthal & Co., Inc. (February 1996 – July 1998)
• Bear, Stearns & Co., Inc. (August 1995 – February 1996)

In February 2017, a customer complaint was filed for alleged documentation during the period of September 2016 to February 2017 while Ryman was employed at Raymond James and Associates. The stated alleged damages are $300,000.00 and the claim is currently pending. Another pending case was filed in November 2016 by a customer alleging that Ryman sold an unsuitable Private Equity fund. The alleged damages were $250,000.00 and is still pending.

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shutterstock_184149845-300x246The securities lawyers of Gana LLP are following the case against broker Jeffrey Kluge (Kluge) who pleaded guilty to two counts of bank fraud in the state of Minnesota. A plead agreement was filed with the U.S. District Court in Minnesota on March 29, 2017. Kluge entered the securities industry in 1991 and remained with Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Inc. for the entirety of his career. Kluge started a scheme to create fraudulent Merrill Lynch account statements to falsely secure collateral for multi-million lines of credit. Kluge was able to carry out this scheme by creating a fake domain name, www.mymerrillonline.com, and fake email address, pledgecontrol@mymerrillonline.com, to send the falsified account statements to Platinum Bank. A false Merrill Lynch identity was used as a cover for the email address. Kluge ran this fraudulent scheme for 15 years, starting in 2001 to November 2016.

In 2001, Kluge received a line of credit for $150,000 from Alliance Bank by putting up municipal bond funds as collateral. These bond funds were substantiated by falsified account statements that hid the fact that the same bonds were already pledged to Merrill Lynch loans previously obtained by Kluge. The outstanding balance of Alliance Bank line of credit was at $6 million in November 2016.

Utilizing the same scheme for Alliance Bank, Kluge was able to secure a $1 million line of credit from Platinum Bank in Minnesota. He procured this line of credit by putting up the same assets used for Merrill Lynch and Alliance Bank.  The Platinum Bank line of credit balance was at $2.7 million as of November 2016.

shutterstock_138129767-300x199Our firm is investigating claims made by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against broker Joseph Likens (Likens).  According to brokercheck, in Likens failed to respond to FINRA’s requests for information resulting in a bar.  FINRA stated that Likens refused to appear for on-the-record testimony related an investigation into allegations that he may have engaged in private securities transactions.  At this time the scope of Likens activities and the specific investments are not reported.  However, Likens disclosed outside business activities involving PWA Network.

The FINRA investigation followed Likens’ termination from his previous employer LPL Financial LLC (LPL) in May 2016.  Likens worked out of a d/b/a Cornerstone Wealth Management.  At that time, Likens was terminated after allegations were made that he engaged in trading away from the firm.  In November 2016, a customer alleged that Likens sold away from the firm an investment made in 2011 causing $120,000 in damages.  The claim is currently pending.

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shutterstock_132317306Our firm is investigating claims made by Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. (Ameriprise) when the firm terminated broker Adam Ausloos (Ausloos).  According to the firm, Ausloos was discharged in July 2016 after allegation were made that Ausloos violated firm policies and was suspended and subsequently discharged for violation of company policy related to outside business activities and private placement activity.

According to Ausloos’ brokercheck records Ausloos disclosed outside business activities including Atomic Consulting LLC, real estate, and AdviseWorks Wealth Advisors 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”.  Often times brokers who engage in this practice use outside businesses in order to market their securities.

Ausloos entered the securities industry in 2012.  From August 2012 through May 2014 Ausloos was associated with Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated.  From May 2014 until July 2016, Ausloos was registered with Ameriprise out of the firm’s Brookfield, Wisconsin office location.

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shutterstock_168478292Our firm has previously reported on the growing trend of brokerage firms recommending non-purpose loans secured by their brokerage accounts to clients.  See Investors Risk Big Losses with Loans Secured by Securities Collateral Accounts.  Recently, the state of Massachusetts charged Morgan Stanley with conducting unethical – high-pressure – sales contests among its financial advisers to encourage clients to take out loans.  According to newsources, from January 2014 until April 2015, the firm ran two different contests involving 30 advisers in Massachusetts and Rhode Island with the express goal of persuading customers to take out securities-based loans (SBLOCs) with their securities accounts serving as collateral.  Advisers were promised bonuses of $1,000 for 10 loans, $3,000 for 20 loans and $5,000 for 30 loans. The contest was alleged to have generated $24 million in new loans and was run despite an internal Morgan Stanley prohibition on such initiatives.

As a background, these lines of credit allow investors to borrow money using securities held in the investment accounts as collateral and allow the investor to continue to trade securities in the pledged accounts. An SBLOC typically requires monthly interest-only payments until repaid. Thus, when an investor losses a significant amount of their portfolio the investor has made very little progress in repaying the loan and may have few to no options to pay the loan back.  Recently FINRA issued an “Investor Alert” entitled “Securities-Backed Lines of Credit – It May Pay to See Beyond the Pitch” recognizing the conflicts between brokerage firms incentivized by “SBLOCs [that] can be a key revenue source for securities firms” and those same firms “placing your financial future at greater risk.”

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shutterstock_160486019The securities lawyers of Gana LLP are investigating customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against broker Thomas Braley (Braley).  According to BrokerCheck records Braley has been subject to at least four customer complaints.  The customer complaints against Braley alleges securities law violations that including unauthorized trading , unsuitable investments, and misrepresentations among other claims.

In May 2016 a customer filed a complaint against Braley alleging that unsuitable investment recommendations were made, excessive trading, and misrepresentation from January 2013 to February 2016 that caused $180,000 in damages.  The complaint is currently pending.

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