According to BrokerCheck records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker Patrick Maddren (Maddren) has been subject to two customer complaints and two tax liens. Maddren is currently registered with WestPark Capital, Inc. (WestPark Capital). In March 2016 a customer filed a complaint alleging a number of securities law violations including that the broker engaged in churning (excessive trading), material misrepresentations and omissions, unauthorized trading, unsuitable recommendations, and breach of contract among other claims. The claim alleged $1,000,000 in damages and is now settled.
In 2012 several tax liens were filed against Maddren in amounts totaling over $300,000. Large tax liens on a broker’s CRD can be a red flag that the broker may be influenced to engage in high commission activity in order to satisfy personal debts. In addition, a broker’s inability to manage their own finances is relevant in a customer’s decision to use their services.
When brokers engage in excessive trading, sometimes referred to as churning, the broker will typical trade in and out of securities, sometimes even the same stock, many times over a short period of time. Often times the account will completely “turnover” every month with different securities. This type of investment trading activity in the client’s account serves no reasonable purpose for the investor and is engaged in only to profit the broker through the generation of commissions created by the trades. Churning is considered a species of securities fraud. The elements of the claim are excessive transactions of securities, broker control over the account, and intent to defraud the investor by obtaining unlawful commissions. A similar claim, excessive trading, under FINRA’s suitability rule involves just the first two elements. Certain commonly used measures and ratios used to determine churning help evaluate a churning claim. These ratios look at how frequently the account is turned over plus whether or not the expenses incurred in the account made it unreasonable that the investor could reasonably profit from the activity.