Articles Tagged with Penny Stocks

shutterstock_123758422The securities lawyers of Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against broker Gregg Templeton (Templeton). According to BrokerCheck records Templeton is subject to six customer complaints and one employment separation. The recent customer complaints against Templeton allege securities law violations that including misrepresentations, breach of fiduciary duty, and negligent supervision among other claims.   The claims appear to largely relate to allegations regarding promissory notes and penny stocks.

The most recent complaint filed in January 2016 alleges that between December 2013 and May 2015 the customer claims to have been defrauded out of $6,750,000 through misrepresentations in what appear to be penny stocks while Templeton was associated with Oppenheimer & Co. Inc. (Oppenheimer) out of the firm’s New York, New York office location. The dispute is currently pending.

Our firm has represented many clients in who have suffered losses due to inappropriate penny stock trading and manipulation claims. Penny stocks and low priced securities are favorite targets for investment fraud because they are easily manipulated and allow schemers to profit from their victims investments.

shutterstock_156562427The investment attorneys of Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating regulatory complaints filed by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) against brokerage firm Finance 500, Inc. (Finance 500) and its employees including William Watson, Robert Hicks, Geoffrey Schiffrin, Paul Savage (Disciplinary Proceedings Nos. 2013038091902, 2013036837802). The complaints largely focus on allegations that the firm failed to supervise the issuance, sales, and trading of various low-priced securities or penny stocks.

According to one of the complaints, FINRA alleged that Finance 500 raised millions for four different penny stock issuers. FINRA alleged that from June 2012 to June 2014 Finance 500 failed to enforce a reasonable supervisory system to review and monitor sales of private placements by its investment banking department in the areas of due diligence, suitability, and marketing materials provided to customers. In addition, FINRA alleged that from March 2013 through June 2014, the firm used or permitted issuers to use, private placement marketing materials that were not fair and balanced and made misleading unsupported statements.

While FINRA’s investigation focused on many areas of securities issuance, one area focused on was the firm’s suitability procedures for private placements which were found to be not reasonable. FINRA stated that Finance 500 did not have an adequate procedures regarding how it would collect the suitability documents from each customer and in some cases the documents that it did collect were incomplete and did not include all requested information. In addition, FINRA found that the firm lacked procedures regarding how and when supervisory approval would be given for a particular customer and at times allowed its supervisory system to be evaded by permitting customers solicited by the firm’s registered representatives to make investments directly with the issuer.

shutterstock_94632238The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) brought an enforcement action against broker Gary Arford (Arford) resulting in a monetary sanctions of $4,226,684. In addition, according to the BrokerCheck records kept by FINRA, Arford has been the subject of at least 10 customer complaints. The customer complaints against Arford allege unsuitable investments, misrepresentations, and fraud among other claims. Many of the complaints involve products such as oil and gas and penny stocks. Arford was also permitted to resign from Comprehensive Wealth Management, LLC (Comprehensive Wealth Management) after allegations were made that Arford attempted to directly settle a customer complaint. In March 2014, Arford was also terminated from Independent Financial Group, LLC (IFG) after allegations were made that Arford was the subject of customer complaints.

The most recent complaint against Arford alleged $560,000 in damages concerning allegations that Arford as an owner of Comprehensive Wealth Management breach his fiduciary duty by recommending unsuitable oil and gas products from 2011 through 2014 and misrepresented the investments. Another customer complaint filed in September 2014 alleges similar issues with oil and gas and penny stock investment made between 2012 and 2013 which resulted in $500,000 in alleged damages.

In the SEC action, the regulator alleged that between approximately December 2010 and October 2013, Arford acted as an investment adviser to a private fund (Fund) and provided advice for real estate-related investments. The SEC alleged that Arford defrauded the Fund and its investors in at least four ways by: 1) inducing the Fund to commit a total of $4 million to an investment in a company, referred to as Suburban Hotel, that was purportedly planning to build and operate a hotel on undeveloped land in Seattle by misrepresenting and concealing material facts about the company’s debt and the encumbrances; 2) after obtaining the Fund’s investment commitment Respondent took personal ownership of the company’s undeveloped property, and then pledged it as collateral for personal debts; 3) inducing the Fund to continue fulfilling its investment commitment by concealing his personal ownership and use of the company’s undeveloped property and by misrepresenting and hiding material facts about the use of Fund assets; and 4) by misappropriating Fund assets for unrelated purposes.

shutterstock_123758422According to the BrokerCheck records kept by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker Robert Marks (Marks) has been the subject of at least 2 customer complaints. Customers have filed complaints against Marks alleging securities law violations that focus primarily on churning and excessive trading. In addition to the churning claims, customers have complained of unsuitable investments, negligence, fraud, and unauthorized trading among other claims. One customer complaint focuses on speculative trading in penny stocks.

Marks entered the securities industry in 2000. From August 2008, until October 2009, Marks was associated with GunnAllen Financial, Inc. Thereafter, Marks became associated with Synergy Investment Group, LLC from October 2009, until October 2011. Finally, since September 2011, Marks has been associated with Cape Securities Inc. where he remains registered out of the Coram, New York office location.

Churning is investment trading activity in the client’s account that serves no reasonable purpose for the investor and is transacted solely to profit the broker. The elements to establish a churning claim, which is considered a species of securities fraud, 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.

shutterstock_102242143According to the BrokerCheck records kept by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker Homer Vining (Vining) has been the subject of at least one customer complaint and three regulatory actions. The customer complaint against Vining alleges a number of securities law violations including that the broker made misrepresentations concerning penny stocks and a claim of investment sold away from the firm among other claims.

Vining entered the securities industry in 1991. From 2005 through August 2009, Vining was associated with Ameriprise Advisor Services, Inc. Thereafter, from August 2009, until March 2015, Vining was associated with J.P. Turner & Company, L.L.C. (JP Turner).

Vining has three regulatory actions against him. The first is a suspension by FINRA for failing to comply with an arbitration award. The second is also a suspension by FINRA for failing to comply with an arbitration award. The third regulatory action is by the state of Georgia which suspended Vining until the broker comes into good standing with FINRA.

shutterstock_26813263According to the BrokerCheck records kept by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker Christopher Veale (Veale) has been the subject of at least 12 customer complaints, six judgment and lien of over $1,000,000 and five separate regulatory actions, two investigations by state regulators and one criminal matter involving a felony over the course of his career. Customers have filed complaints against Veale alleging a litany of securities law violations including that the broker made unsuitable investments, unauthorized trades, breach of fiduciary duty, misrepresentations and false statements, churning, and fraud, among other claims. Many of the claims involve recommendations in penny stocks and other speculative securities.

An examination of Veale’s employment history reveals that Veale moves from troubled firm to troubled firm. The pattern of brokers moving in this way is sometimes called “cockroaching” within the industry. See More Than 5,000 Stockbrokers From Expelled Firms Still Selling Securities, The Wall Street Journal, (Oct. 4, 2013). In Veale’s 18 year career he has worked at 18 different firms.

Since 2008 Veale has been registered with Maximum Financial Investment Group, Franklin Christopher Investment Bankers, Inc., Brookville Capital Partners, Blackwall Capital Markets, Inc., Meyers Associates, L.P., John Thomas Financial, and Legend Securities, Inc., until February 2015.

shutterstock_180341738According to the BrokerCheck records kept by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker Thomas Tedeschi (Tedeschi) has been the subject of at least 6 customer complaints, one judgment and lien over the course of his career. Customers have filed complaints against Tedeschi alleging a litany of securities law violations including that the broker made unsuitable investments, unauthorized trades, breach of fiduciary duty, misrepresentations and false statements, and churning, among other claims. The claims involve different investment recommendations including claims involving warrants, penny stocks, and Exchange Traded Notes, among other speculative securities.

An examination of Tedeschi’s employment history reveals that Tedeschi moves from troubled firm to troubled firm. The pattern of brokers moving in this way is sometimes called “cockroaching” within the industry. See More Than 5,000 Stockbrokers From Expelled Firms Still Selling Securities, The Wall Street Journal, (Oct. 4, 2013). In Tedeschi’s 20 year career he has worked at 17 different firms.

Since 2008 alone Tedeschi has been registered with Westrock Advisors, Inc., Obsidian Financial Group, LLC, John Thomas Financial, Prestige Financial Center, Inc., Blackbook Capital LLC, and Aegis Capital Corp.

shutterstock_133100114The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has filed a complaint against broker Allen Green (Green) concerning allegations that Green violated FINRA’s suitability rule by making unsuitable recommendations to a disabled customer, and also by having no reasonable basis to recommend non-traditional exchange traded funds (Non-traditional ETFs) to his customers.

Green has been in the securities industry since 1976 and also has been a registered principal since 2003. From May 2006, until November 2009, Green was associated with Cullum & Burks Securities, Inc. Thereafter, from November 2009 until April 2013, Green was registered with Royal Securities Company (Royal Securities). According to FINRA, Green was the supervising principal for one of Royal Securities’ Michigan branch offices and did business in that branch under the name A Green Financial Group.

FINRA alleged in the complaint that Green believed that the world economy was on the precipice of catastrophe and that certain asset classes would increase in value due to the resulting “world chaos” that would result. As a result of his view, FINRA alleged that Green recommended to virtually all of his customers that they invest almost exclusively in securities with exposure to precious metals, natural resources, commodities, and energy as part of a comprehensive investment strategy.

shutterstock_153463763The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) recently sanctioned former Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. (Ameriprise) broker Radcliffe Daly (Daly) concerning allegations that between May 2013 and November 2013, while Daly was registered with Ameriprise, Daly mismarked more than 250 order tickets for solicited transactions as unsolicited. In addition, FINRA alleged that during the same period Daly engaged in private securities transactions (also known as “selling away”) without providing written notice to Ameriprise. FINRA also alleged that Daly exercised unauthorized discretion in customer accounts.

Daly entered the securities industry in 2003 and left the industry in June 2014. During the majority of this time Daly was associated with Ameriprise until January 2014.

FINRA alleged that Daly recommended a penny stock, Sloud, Inc. (SLOU), to numerous customers during 2013. According to FINRA Daly placed 292 buy transactions for 43 different customers in the Sloud stock between May 3 and November 7, 2013. However, instead of properly marking the transactions as solicited, Daly allegedly falsely marked 253 of these purchases as unsolicited. FINRA also found that Daly continued to solicit purchases of Sloud and to inappropriately mark the trades as unsolicited even after being told by his firm in June 2013 that he could not solicit purchases of the stock because it was a penny stock and not supported by firm research. From the allegations made by FINRA it appears that Daly attempted to circumvent Ameriprise’s instructions by mismarking the tickets as unsolicited.

shutterstock_120556300The law offices of Gana Weinstein LLP recently filed a complaint on behalf of an investor against Rockwell Global Capital, LLC (Rockwell), accusing the firm of making unsuitable recommendations and failing to properly supervise one of its financial advisers.  In or around July 2013, the client alleged that he received a cold call from Rockwell financial adviser, Patrick Lofaro. A cold call is when someone solicits and individual who was not anticipating such an interaction. Cold calling is a technique used by a salesperson to contact individuals who have not previously expressed an interest in the products or services that are being offered.

It was alleged that Mr. Lofaro aggressively pursued the client’s investment related business and that Mr. Lofaro convinced him that he could build a diversified portfolio with minimal risk to the client.  In reliance upon Mr. Lofaro’s assurances, the Claimant alleged that he opened an account with Rockwell in or around August 2013.  Over a seven-month period, the Claimant invested a substantial sum with Rockwell which represented close to 50% of his liquid net worth.  The complaint alleges that Mr. Lofaro, rather than create a suitable portfolio, implemented a high-leverage, excessive trading strategy that generated a high amount of commissions without providing any material benefit to the Claimant.

According to the complaint, over the course of just over a year, Mr. Lofaro executed nearly one-hundred-forty (140) trades into and out of thirty-five (35) different stocks, including seventeen (17) small caps, two (2) initial public offerings (IPO’s), eight (8) penny stocks, and fifteen (15) different stocks that were more than twice as volatile as the S&P 500.  The complaint alleges that Mr. Lofaro created a portfolio laden with risk while providing no material benefit to the Claimant. Mr. Lofaro’s investment strategy ultimately cost the Claimant an estimated $837,131, while Mr. Lofaro received over $261,080 in commissions.