Articles Tagged with Raymond James

shutterstock_183011084-199x300According to BrokerCheck records Todd Ryman (Ryman), now associated with SunTrust Investment Services, Inc. (SunTrust), has been subject to six customer complaints and one regulatory action in his career.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Ryman has been accused by customers of unsuitable investment advice in a variety of securities including equities, private equity investment funds, and other types of investment vehicles.  Some customers have also alleged unauthorized trading, misrepresentations and failure to follow instructions, among other claims.

One customer complaint filed in November 2016 alleged an unsuitable investment in a private equity fund resulting in $250,000 in damages.  The claim was settled for $205,193.

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_175298066-300x225Our securities fraud attorneys are investigating customer complaints and a recent regulatory action filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against Paul Alexander (Alexander) formerly associated with Raymond James & Associates, Inc. (Raymond James), alleging Alexander engaged in a number of securities law violations including that the broker made unsuitable investments, unauthorized trading, breach of fiduciary duty, and securities fraud among other claims.

In November 2016 FINRA sanctioned Alexander after he consented to the entry of findings that in contravention of his member firm’s policies and procedures, Alexander effected transactions while exercising discretion without prior written authorization in customer accounts and without notifying his brokerage firm to accept the accounts as discretionary.

The most recent customer complaint filed against Alexander was in September 2015 alleging unauthorized trading causing $244,000 in damages.  The claim was settled for $95,000.

shutterstock_185864867Our investment attorneys are investigating customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against financial advisor John Crook (Crook) currently registered with Prospera Financial Services, Inc. (Prospera), alleging unsuitable investments, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, negligence, churning, and unauthorized trading among other claims.  According to brokercheck records Crook has been subject to two customer complaints and one employment separation for cause.

In July 2015 Crook was discharged by Raymond James & Associates, Inc. (Raymond James) after the firm stated that it lost confidence in Crook after an internal review into a client compliant lead the firm to believe that Crook did not provide plausible explanations to the investigation.

In August 2016 a customer filed $4.8 million complaint involving Crook’s conduct and alleging violations of the securities law.  The claim is still pending.

shutterstock_173088497Records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) concerning broker Joel Burstein Jr. (Burstein) reveal ten recently filed customer complaints.  The customer complaints against Burstein involve claims of common law fraud, negligence, violation of Florida Statute 726 (fraudulent transfers), aiding and abetting, unsuitable recommendations, and breach of fiduciary duty among other claims.  These claims allege hundreds of millions in investor losses.

The claims appear to be related to actions taken by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in a fraud complaint against Ariel Quiros and William Stenger alleging that they and their companies made false statements and omitted key information while raising more than $350 million from investors to construct ski resort facilities and a biomedical research facility in Vermont.

Raymond James was then named in a lawsuit filed by the SEC-appointed receiver.  According to news sources, investors were told they were investing projects connected to Jay Peak Inc. ski resort operated by Mr. Quiros and Mr. Stenger.  While investor money was supposed to be used for to finance specific projects the operators, in Ponzi scheme fashion, used money from investors in later projects to fund deficits in earlier projects.

shutterstock_103681238The investment lawyers of Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating a regulatory action brought by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against Jeffrey Ingros (Ingros) (FINRA No. 2013039166001) working out of Beaver, Pennsylvania. According to the FINRA action, Ingros consented to a bar from the securities industry after he failed to provide information requested by FINRA during its investigation concerning undisclosed loans from a customer and outside business activities. 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”. In addition to the FINRA bar, Ingros has a long history of customer complaints and two employment separations for allegations of misconduct.

At this time it unclear the nature and scope of Ingros’ outside business activities and private securities transactions. However, according to Ingros’ public records his outside business activities include Fort McIntosh Group, LLC, Ingros Family, LLC, and Fort McIntosh Annuity & Insurance. Often times, brokers sell promissory notes and other investments through side businesses as accountants, lawyers, or insurance to clients of those side practices.

Ingros was associated with brokerage firm Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated (Merrill Lynch) from May 2007 until November 203. Finally, from November 2013 until February 2016 Ingros was registered with Raymond James Financial Services, Inc. (Raymond James).

shutterstock_130676432The investment attorneys with Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating and representing investors who were inappropriately recommended oil and gas and commodities related investments. Investors may have potential legal remedies due to unsuitable recommendations by their broker to invest in this speculative and volatile area. Raymond James in one brokerage firm that has served as an underwriter for many master limited partnerships (MLPs) deals and whose analysts have previously given high ratings to these investments.

Jeff Saut, chief investment strategist, at Raymond James stated that his favorite MLP plays included Yorkville High Income LLP ETF (YMLP) and Yorkville High Income Infrastructure MLP ETF (YMLI). These two funds have plummeted significantly since the recommendation.

Among the individual MLPs that have suffered significant declines and now is in jeopardy of bankruptcy that was promoted by Raymond James analysts is Linn Energy (LINE) and LinnCo (LNCO). Both stocks have plummeted in value by about 98% in value over the last year. For years Raymond James analyst Keven Smith kept a “Strong Buy” rating on Linn Energy. Finally, when the stock had plummeted 50% in value with no sign of recovery Smith downgraded LinnCo to “Outperform” from “Strong Buy” and the price target to $9 from $15. Only in February 2016 when Linn Energy was on the verge of bankruptcy did Raymond James analysts drop the stock to “Underperform.”

shutterstock_13267522According to the BrokerCheck records kept by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker Scott Sibley (Sibley) has been hit with a large number of customer complaints. Sibley’s record reveals a total of 14 customer complaints. However, in 2015 alone 10 of those complaints have been filed. Sibley has also been the subject of one employment separation and one regulatory action over the course of his career. Customers have filed complaints against Sibley alleging securities law violations including that the broker made unsuitable investments, churning, breach of fiduciary duty, negligence, and breach of contract among other claims.

Sibley entered the securities industry in 1994. Since November 2007, until March 2015, Sibley was registered with Raymond James & Associates, Inc. Since March 2015, Sibley has been associated with Moors & Cabot, Inc. out of their Boca Raton, Florida 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_102757574The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) sanctioned broker James Madden (Madden) (Case No. 2014040336501) alleging that from March 2010, to February 2014, Madden exercised discretion in executing transactions in the accounts of l5 customers. FINRA found that Madden had received prior verbal authorization from his customers for the transactions but exercised his discretion in executing those transactions on future dates. FINRA found that Madden did not obtain written authorization from his customers to exercise discretion in their accounts and his brokerage firm, Raymond James & Associates, Inc. (Raymond James) did not approve the accounts for discretionary trading.

According to the BrokerCheck records kept by FINRA Madden has been the subject of at least three customer complaints, one regulatory action, and one employment termination for cause. Customers have filed complaints against Madden alleging securities law violations including that the broker made unsuitable investments and unauthorized trades among other claims.

Madden entered the securities industry in 1983. From 1993, until April 2009, Madden was associated with Citigroup Global Markets Inc. Thereafter, from March 2009, until February 2014, Madden was a registered representative with Raymond James. In February 2014, Raymond James filed a Form U5 stating that Madden’s termination was for cause and due to allegations of unauthorized trading. Finally, since February 2014, Madden has been associated with Thurston, Springer, Miller, Herd & Titak, Inc.

shutterstock_140321293Certain groups have been particularly vulnerable to advisors who engage in investment fraud. Among those groups well known are senior citizens who may have diminished capacity. Another group that serves as a common target are affinity frauds. In an affinity fraud the scammer preys upon members of a group or community such as members of certain religions or ethnic communities.

However, lessor known common victims of investment fraud schemes are professional athletes. Athletes are often preyed upon by bad advisors because they possess attributes that tend to allow the advisor to take advantage of their client. Athletes tend to be unsophisticated in the area of securities and investing often never having previous investment experience prior to going pro. In addition, athletes have busy schedules and demands on their time that do not allow the athlete to closely monitor or investigate each recommendation being made to them. Accordingly, athletes tend to place their trust in their professional advisor that they know what they are doing. Finally, athletes represent large, multi-million dollar opportunities to fraudsters.

In a recent OnWallStreet article, the unfortunate tales of several athletes were told. Among those athletes whose story were mentioned was Doug Mirabelli who recently won his arbitration dispute with Merrill Lynch where the firm was ordered to pay more than $1.2 million. The award came after Mirabelli and his wife claimed that their income portfolio, comprised of equities pledged against Merrill Lynch-owned mortgages, suffered losses that caused a liquidation. Their financial advisor Phil Scott was accused of providing “inappropriate investment advice” for securities including investments in Alliance Resource Partners, Apollo Investment Corp. and Copano Energy LLC.

shutterstock_143685652The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has sanctioned and barred broker Claus Foerster (Foerster) concerning allegations that Foerster solicited firm customers to invest in a fictitious fund “S.G. Investments” and converted approximately $3 million in funds from 13 customers for his personal use. FINRA rules provide that no person associated with a member shall make improper use of a customer’s securities or funds.

Foerster entered the securities industry in 1988 when he associated with J.C. Bradford & Co. Between 1997 and 2008, Foerster was associated with Citigroup Global Markets, Inc. (Citigroup). From 2008 until February 2013, Foerster was associated with Morgan Keegan & Co. Inc. Thereafter, and until June 2014, Foerster was last associated with Raymond James & Associates, Inc., (Raymond James) when his registration was terminated based on the conduct described by FINRA in the AWC.

FINRA alleged that beginning in 2000, Foerster solicited securities customers to invest in an entity called S.G. Investments. S.G. Investments was marketed by Foerster to investors as an income-oriented investment. As part of Foerster’s scheme, FINRA alleged that he instructed customers to move funds from their brokerage accounts to their personal bank accounts via wire or electronic funds transfer. After that, FINRA found that Foerster would then instruct the customers to write checks from their personal bank accounts payable to “S.G. Investments.” FINRA determined that S.G. Investments was not an investment fund but instead a bank account owned and controlled by Foerster. According to FINRA, Foerster hid his scheme by providing customers with fictitious account statements. In addition, FINRA found that in at least two instances Foerster provided customers with purported dividend payments on a monthly basis in typical Ponzi Scheme fashion. Through these actions, FINRA found that Foerster converted approximately $3 million from 13 customers.