Articles Tagged with misrepresentation

shutterstock_120556300-300x300The investment lawyers at Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating the regulatory action brought by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against Donald Southwick (Southwick).

According to BrokerCheck records, without admitting or denying the findings, Southwick consented to the sanction and to the entry of findings that he failed to perform a reasonable basis suitability analysis prior to recommending investments to his customers. The findings also stated that Southwick recommended unsuitable transactions in the securities accounts of two customers by recommending purchases that resulted in an over-concentration of illiquid private offerings, inconsistent with their investment objectives and risk tolerance. Southwick has been suspended from the securities industry for six months.

Moreover, Southwick has been subject to two customer complaints.

shutterstock_184430645-300x225According to BrokerCheck records, Elaine LaCerte (LaCerte), also known as Elaine Diones and Elaine Diones Helzer, was suspended by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) in August 2017.

LaCerte was suspended for allegedly engaging in an unsuitable pattern of short-term trading of Unite Investment Trusts (UITs) in over 100 customer accounts. Without admitting or denying the findings, LaCerte consented to the sanctions and the entry of findings. The findings stated that “in connection with these accounts, LaCerte repeatedly recommended that the customers purchase UITs and then sell these products well before their maturity dates. In addition, on more than 100 occasions, LaCerte recommended that her customers use the proceeds from the short-term sale of a UIT to purchase another UIT with identical investment objectives. LaCerte’s recommendations caused the customers to incur unnecessary sales charges, and were unsuitable in view of the frequency and cost of the transactions.” LaCerte has been banned from the industry for six months and was ordered to pay a $5,000 fine.

Moreover, LaCerte has been subject to four customer disputes.

shutterstock_178565714-300x200Gana Weinstein LLP is investigating new customer complaints filed with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against broker Aaron Robert Parthemer (Parthemer). Our firm has been investigating Parthemer since 2015, when Parthemer was barred from FINRA for engaging in private securities transactions, also known as “selling away”. According to FINRA’s BrokerCheck records for Parthemer, there are 4 new disclosures on his record since his last regulatory action in 2015. These disclosures including customer complaints against Parthemer alleging unsuitable and unauthorized investments, and misrepresentation. Parthemer was barred permanently from FINRA on April 2015. His registration to the New Jersey Bureau of Securities, a self-regulatory organization, was revoke in September 2015.

The most current customer complaint pending against Parthemer is from May 2017, alleging Parthemer made unsuitable investments starting in 2009 when Parthemer was employed at Wells Fargo Advisors and Morgan Stanley Smith Barney. During Parthemer’s stint at Morgan Stanley, the client alleged that Parthemer presented outside investment opportunities that he had a personal interest in, which was unauthorized by the firm. The customer alleged damages of $1,622,844.00.

A second customer complaint was submitted in September 2016 regarding Parthemer’s actions while employed at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney. The customer alleged that Parthemer solicited the client to invest in outside investments that were not authorized by Morgan Stanley. The alleged damages are $205,000.00 and is still pending.

shutterstock_161005310The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) sanctioned five brokers formerly associated with now expelled brokerage firm HFP Capital Markets LLC (HFP Capital) (Case No. 2010024522103) including brokers Jonah Engler (Engler), Brett Friedberg (Friedberg), Jonathan Sheklow (Sheklow), Joshua Turney (Turney), and Hector Perez (a/k/a Bruce Johnson) (Perez) concerning allegations that between December 2009, and February 2011, the five brokers fraudulently sold a total of nearly $3 million worth of Senior Secured Zero Coupon Notes (MMM Notes) issued by Metals, Milling and Mining LLC in a private placement offering to 59 customers.

FINRA alleged that the brokers misrepresented material facts about the offering by promising to pay a return of 100 percent in one year by purportedly extracting precious metals from materials left over from mining operations. In reality, FINRA determined that the investors lost all of the money that they invested in the MMM Notes, with the exception of three investors who were repaid with funds from new investors in a Ponzi scheme like fashion. FINRA determined that the brokers also recklessly failed to conduct a reasonable investigation, or due diligence, of the viability and legitimacy of company in the face of numerous red flags that it was a fraud.

In addition, FINRA alleged that the brokers recklessly misrepresented to customers that: (a) the MMM Notes were collateralized by certain barrels of ore concentrate; and (b) the collateral ore concentrate was of sufficient value to secure the investment in the MMM Notes. In fact, FINRA found that there was no collateral for the MMM Notes because the company did not own any ore concentrate. FINRA determined that the broker’s representations concerning the MMM Notes were recklessly and misrepresented material facts regarding the MMM Notes in willful violation of Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 (the anti-fraud provision) as well as several industry rules. In sum, the brokers failed to obtain even basic information about the company necessary to the due diligence process in order to understand an investment in the company and therefore lacked a reasonable basis to recommend the MMM Notes to investors.

shutterstock_174313244According to the BrokerCheck records kept by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker Michael Fasciglione (Fasciglione) has been the subject of at least 11 customer complaints and two regulatory actions. The customer complaints against Fasciglione allege a number of securities law violations including that the broker made unsuitable investments, unauthorized trading, and churning (excessive trading), breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, negligence, fraud, misrepresentation, and failure to supervise among other claims. The customer complaints stem from 1995 through 2014 and total allegations of investor losses of multiple millions of dollars.

Fasciglione’s first regulatory action occurred in 2004, when the NYSE initiated an action for alleging that Fasciglione failed to supervise the activities of an employee related to the business of his employer; failing to supervise accounts serviced by a registered representative under his control; failing to ensure proper authorization of account designation changes, along with several other allegations. As a result, of the complaint Fasciglione was suspended for two months and required to re-take any qualifying exams before undertaking any securities supervisory positions.

Fasciglione’s latest regulatory complaint alleges that in or about March 2010, while the IRS filed a $354,752 tax lien against Fasciglione for the tax years 2007 and 2008. An amended Form U4 was filed on November 26, 2012, but FINRA found that this filing was untimely.

shutterstock_1081038According to the BrokerCheck records kept by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker David Ledoux (Ledoux) was recently fined and suspended by the regulator for failing to disclose certain liens on his registration. FINRA alleged that between May 1, 2006 and June 20, 2014, LeDoux failed to timely update his Form U4 to reflect the following six liens totaling $184,795.

In addition, to the recent regulatory action and judgement and liens, Ledoux has been the subject of one criminal event and six customer complaints. The customer complaint against Ledoux allege a number of securities law violations including that the broker made unsuitable investments, fraud, misrepresentation, and engaged in churning (excessive trading) among other claims.

LeDoux entered the securities industry in June 1994. From June 2001, to July 2014, LeDoux was associated with National Securities Corporation. At that time National Securities permitted LeDoux to resign due to his late reporting of liens. Since August 2014, LeDoux has been associated with Westpark Capital, Inc.

shutterstock_102242143As we previously reported, The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) sanctioned and barred financial advisor Matthew Davis (Davis) concerning allegations of misconduct in several customer accounts. Davis was associated with Beneficial Investment Services, Inc. from November 2008, through April 2010. Thereafter, Davis was associated with OneAmerica Securities, Inc. (OneAmerica) from April 2010, through July 2013. The allegations of misconduct included claims of conversion, misrepresentation of customer holdings and account value, forgery, discretionary unauthorized trading, attempts to settle a customer complaint without the firm’s knowledge, and unsuitable investment recommendations.

In a new regulatory action, FINRA alleged that OneAmerica failed to supervise Davis and ignored numerous red flags of misconduct concerning his activities. For instance, FINRA alleged that two customers opened a OneAmerica account with Davis identifying the husband as a 65 years-old and earning between $50,001-75,000 per year. His wife was a “Homemaker” and the couple’s stated Net Worth, excluding their residence, was “$250,001-500,000″ and they had only two years of investment experience limited to stocks, bonds, and mutual funds.

Only three weeks later the couple signed an Option Agreement and were approved to trade options. FINRA found that Davis rapidly traded the options account executing 55 options transactions in May 2012; 52 options transactions in June 2012; and 53 options transactions in July 2012. This activity, according to FINRA, caused a rapid loss of account equity. FINRA found that there were multiple red flags that should have alerted the OneAmerica’s compliance department that Davis’ recommendations were unsuitable. For example, FINRA found that the couple’s account agreement reported minimal investing experience but their options agreement identified purported options (and commodities) trading experience. Also the couple’s new account agreement reported their Investment Objective as Long Term Growth but whereas their options agreement stated their objectives included speculation and hedging. Finally, FINRA alleged that the couple’s new account agreement reported their net worth was $250,000-500,000, whereas the options agreement stated their Net Worth was $640,000.

shutterstock_188995727Broker Kenneth Popek (Popek) has had four customer complaints filed against him over his career as a financial advisor. That many claims are rare. According to InvestmentNews, only about 12% of financial advisors have any type of disclosure event on their records. These disclosures do not necessarily have to include customer complaints but can include IRS tax liens, judgments, and even criminal matters. In Popek’s case the broker has four customer complaints and one bankruptcy.

Popek was registered with Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. from December 2006 until May 2008. Thereafter, Popek was registered and still is registered with Calton & Associates, Inc.

One of Popek’s complaints went to hearing where a panel awarded the customers $342,956 concerning allegations of suitability, misrepresentations, churning, and breach of fiduciary duty. According to the award the causes of action involved, in part, investments in General Motors, Lehman Brothers, and Washington Mutual stocks that all went bust.

How do you know if you have been the victim of securities fraud?  The answer to this question usually begins with the feeling that something is not right with your investments.  Maybe your broker is all of a sudden dodging your calls or having their subordinate answer their calls.  Perhaps your broker told you that an investment would become payable to you at a certain point and despite the fact that the time for payment has long come and past, nothing seems to have happened.  Its often hard to believe that the person you trusted with your savings or retirement has lied and let you down.

Securities fraud describes a whole genera of inappropriate investment activity.  In some instances the broker may sell a customer a security by falsely representing the properties of the security including its terms by either written or oral statements.  The broker may also provide misleading marketing materials in connection with the sales pitch.  Under the securities laws misrepresentations or omissions of fact are material if a reasonable investor might have considered the fact important in the making of the investment decision.  Thus, brokers have a duty to truthfully disclose all material information to an investor in order to evaluate the recommendation being made.

Other types of securities frauds involve some form of broker theft such as in cases of churning (excessive trading) or Ponzi schemes.  In the case of churning, the broker engages in investment trading activity that is excessive and serves little useful purpose and is conducted solely to generate commissions for the broker.  While Ponzi schemes involve the diverting of securities funds meant to be used for a certain investment purpose.  Instead the funds are diverted from the purpose represented to the investor to another purpose such as a different investment vehicle or straight into the Ponzi schemer’s pocket.

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