Articles Tagged with securities fraud lawyer

shutterstock_188141822-300x200According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) financial advisor Viqas Akhtar (Akhtar) has at least three disclosable events.  Theses events include three customer complaints alleging that Akhtar engaged in some form of investment related misconduct in the handling of the client’s accounts.  Akhtar is currently employed by National Securities Corporation (National Securities).  Akhtar’s customer complaints alleges that Akhtar recommended unsuitable investments and engaged in unauthorized trading in different investment products including private placements relating to the handling of client accounts.

In March 2020 a customer complained that Akhtar violated the securities laws by alleging that Akhtar made unsuitable investments resulting in losses in the amount of $150,000 in the account.  The claim settled for $37,500.

In March 2020 a customer complained that Akhtar violated the securities laws by alleging that Akhtar made unsuitable investments resulting in losses in the amount of $85,000 in the account.  The claim is currently pending.

In October 2019 a customer complained that Akhtar violated the securities laws by alleging that Akhtar engaged in unauthorized trading resulting in losses in the amount of $8,000 in the account.  The claim settled for $9,539.

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shutterstock_153912335-300x189The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating BrokerCheck records reports that advisor Russell Green (Green), currently employed by Cabot Lodge Securities LLC (Cabot Lodge) has been subject to at least five customer complaints during the course of his career.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Mr. Green’s customer complaints alleges that Mr. Green recommended unsuitable investments, among other allegations, including: churning, and misconduct relating to the handling of their accounts.

In August 2017, a customer complained that Mr. Green violated the securities laws by alleging that Mr. Green engaged in excessive trading and unsuitable recommendations.  The claim settled in the amount of $250,000.

In June 2014, Mr. Green was subject to a FINRA regulatory action. Mr. Green allegedly engaged in misconduct regarding necessary client information in connection with the deposit and sale of stock. Mr. Green consented to sanctions; he was faced with $5,000 in fines.

When brokers engage in excessive trading, sometimes referred to as churning, the broker will typically 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.

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shutterstock_7641514-300x200The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating BrokerCheck records reports that financial advisor Andrew Grant (Grant), currently employed by Laidlaw & Company (UK) Ltd. (Laidlaw & Company) has been subject to at least one regulatory action and a customer complaint during the course of his career.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Mr. Grant’s customer complaints alleges that Mr. Grant recommended unsuitable investments, among other allegations of misconduct relating to the handling of their accounts.

In January 2020, FINRA initiated a regulatory action against Mr. Grant. Mr. Grant consented to the sanctions and findings. The findings involved Mr. Grant exercising discretionary trading in customers’ accounts, who did not give written authorization. Mr. Grant faced $5,000 in civil and administrative penalties/fines, along with suspension for 15 business days.

In August 2018, a customer complained that Mr. Grant violated the securities laws by alleging that Mr. Grant engaged in unsuitable investment advice for two years. The claim alleged $125,000 in damages and was closed-no action.

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shutterstock_184430612-300x225Broker Audrey Croft (Croft), currently employed at Ameriprise Financial Services, LLC (Ameriprise), has been subject to at least three customer complaints and an astonishing ten tax liens during the course of her career. Her customer complaints allege misrepresentation and unsuitable recommendation.

Croft’s BrokerCheck report shows a substantial amount of disclosures (13). Over the course of her career, Croft has disclosed ten tax liens totaling approximately $80,000.00. Most recently, Croft disclosed two tax liens in April and October 2019 totaling approximately $600.00. In February 2012, Croft disclosed her largest tax lien totaling approximately $64,000.00. 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.  FINRA discloses information concerning a broker’s financial condition because a broker’s inability to handle their own personal finances has also been found to be material information in helping investors determine if they should allow the broker to handle their finances.

Additionally, Croft has been alleged of making misrepresentations and unsuitable recommendations. In January 2019, a customer alleged Croft misrepresented the surrender charges and premium payments of an insurance policy. Additionally, in February 2009 a customer alleged Croft did not disclose the full details of a policy. The Broker Comment stated, “THE VUL POLICIES DID NOT APPEAR TO BE SUITABLE FOR THE CLIENTS’ INSURANCE NEEDS OR ABILITY TO SUSTAIN LARGE PAYMENTS AND THEY DID NOT APPEAR TO HAVE UNDERSTOOD THERE COULD BE SURRENDER CHARGES OR THE POLICIES COULD LAPSE.” This matter settled for approximately $37,000.00. Similarly, in September 2008, a customer alleged Croft of making unsuitable recommendations. This matter also settled in favor of the customer for approximately $44,000.00.

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shutterstock_189302954-300x203The law offices of Gana Weinstein LLP are currently investigating claims that advisor Felix Chu (Chu) was investigated by a securities regulator for selling promissory notes to clients among other allegations.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Chu left his prior employer, NYLife Securities, LLC (NYLife Securities) prior to several customer complaints concerning the sale of promissory notes.  If you have been a victim of Chu’s alleged misconduct our firm may be able to assist you in recovering funds.

In December 2019 FINRA sent Chu requests for information concerning his activities.  Chu failed to respond to the requests and was automatically barred from the brokerage industry.

In October 2019 a customer complained that Chu violated the securities laws by alleging that Radoo engaged in sales practice violations related investments beginning in March 2016 until September 2018, she and her late husband were misled into purchasing promissory notes for $305,000. Plaintiff further alleges that they were misled into remitting a check for $75,000 to purchase what they believed to be additional insurance. The claim is currently, pending and the the investors are seeking compensatory damages in excess of $380,000, lost income, interest, punitive damages and attorneys’ fees.

Our law firm has significant experience bringing cases on behalf of defrauded victims when their advisors engage in receiving loans from clients or selling securities sales through OBAs.  The sale of unapproved investment products – is a practice known in the industry as “selling away” – a serious violation of the securities laws.  In the industry the term selling away refers to when a financial advisor solicits investments in companies, promissory notes, or other securities that are not pre-approved by the broker’s affiliated firm.  Sometimes those investments have some legitimacy but often times these types of investments can end up being Ponzi schemes or the advisor can be engaging in the conversion of funds.

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shutterstock_112866430-300x199The law offices of Gana Weinstein LLP are currently investigating claims that advisor Timothy Johnson (Johnson) was discharged by his employer after being accused of diverting client funds.  According to BrokerCheck records, Johnson is formerly registered with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) member firm MML Investors Services, LLC (MML).  In addition, Johnson disclosed one regulatory complaint. If you have been a victim of Johnson’s alleged misconduct our firm may be able to assist you in recovering funds.

In July 2019 MML discharged Johnson after alleging that he was terminated in connection with an investigation into the registered representative’s diversion of customer funds for his own use.

In September 2019 FINRA filed a regulatory action alleging that Johnson consented to the sanction and findings that he failed to provide documents and information requested by FINRA during the course of an investigation into the allegations made concerning his termination.  FINRA’s suspension will automatically become a bar if Johnson fails to respond.

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shutterstock_177577832-300x300According to BrokerCheck records financial advisor Joseph Peggs (Peggs), currently employed by Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. (Ameriprise) has been subject to one employment termination for cause, one regulatory action, and eight customer disputes during his career.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the customer complaints against Peggs concerns allegations over several different investment products including equities, options, and variable annuity sales practices.

In June 2019 a customer complained that Peggs violated the securities laws by alleging that Peggs and several other defendants failed to carry out the decedent’s intentions regarding beneficiary designations for two annuities. The decedent’s ex-wife contends that the proceeds of the annuities should have been distributed in such a way that the proceeds could fund continuing payments to her. The alleged damages are unspecified and the claim is currently pending.

In February 2019, a customer complained that Peggs violated the securities laws by alleging that Peggs representative placed them in an unsuitable holding when they rebalanced the portfolio in March of 2015 and that the holding in question then lost significant value.  The alleged damages are $20,000 and the claim settled for $15,000.

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shutterstock_150746-300x199According to BrokerCheck records Ross Sinclaire & Associates, LLC (Ross Sinclaire) has been subject to a regulatory action over, among other things, the firm’s sales practices with respect to several private placement offerings.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Ross Sinclaire has been accused by FINRA of failing to disclose material information to investors in relation to several offerings offerings.

FINRA alleged that in March and April 2014, Ross Sinclaire was the exclusive placement agent for a private placement of notes and was involved in the preparation and circulation of a Confidential Information Memorandum (CIM) to seven accredited investors for notes.  The proceeds were to provide to a film production company for the advance funding of anticipated state tax credits.  The CIM disclosed that in addition to a 2% commission, Ross Sinclaire would also earn a “certain percentage” of profits on the sale of tax credits but failed to disclose that it would earn half of those profits.  FINRA found that this information was a material fact that would have been important to investors.  FINRA also found that the CIM also failed to disclose that one of Ross Sinclaire’s registered representatives was Vice President or the issuer.

In another offering, FINRA alleged that between December 2015 and December 2016, Ross Sinclaire omitted material facts from the Private Placement Memorandum (PPM) for municipal bonds underwritten by the Firm to finance the construction of a community recreation center. FINRA found that Ross Sinclaire failed to disclose in the PPM: (i) that the issuer had threatened to default on an earlier series of bonds and bond anticipation notes (BANs); (ii) that a loan agreement existed between the issuer and Ross Sinclaire: and (iii) information about the finances of both the issuer and Ross Sinclaire.  FINRA determined that this information should have been included in the PPM as it would have been material to investors in deciding whether to invest in the bonds.

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shutterstock_182371613-300x200According to BrokerCheck records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) advisor Joseph Pratte (Pratte), formerly associated with Signator Investors, Inc. (Signator Investors) in Riverside, California was terminated by his firm concerning allegations he engaged in prohibited outside business activity (OBA) and failed to submit the activity to the firm for approval as required.

Thereafter, in May 2018 FINRA sought to question Pratte concerning his OBA.  FINRA found that Pratte failed to cooperate with the investigation.  Accordingly, FINRA determined that Pratte consented to the sanction and to the entry of findings that he refused to provide information in response to FINRA requests made to review Pratte’s outside business activities.

At this time it is unclear the extent of Pratte’s outside business activities or if private securities transactions were involved.  However, Pratte disclosed that he was engaged in a rental property business.

shutterstock_185582-300x225According to BrokerCheck records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) advisor Kenneth Jones (Jones), in May 2017, was terminated by his firm, Aegis Capital Corp. (Aeigs Capital) based on allegations that Jones was under investigation for failure to disclose outside business activities.  Subsequently, Jones was barred from the industry by FINRA after FINRA requested documents and information and he failed to provide the FINRA requested documents and information.  FINRA sought documents concerning the circumstances surrounding Jones’s termination from his member firm and of certain municipal bond trades that Jones performed while registered with the firm.

At this time it is unclear the extent and scope of Jones’ outside business activities or if they involve private securities transactions.  Jones’ CRD lists that he is engaged in insurance an outside business activity at the Mather Christian Church.  Often times undisclosed outside business activities can lead to private securities transactions.  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 the industry the term selling away refers to when a financial advisor solicits investments in companies, promissory notes, or other securities that are not pre-approved by the broker’s affiliated firm.  However, even though when these incidents occur the brokerage firm claims ignorance of their advisor’s activities the firm is obligated under the FINRA rules to properly monitor and supervise its employees in order to detect and prevent brokers from offering investments in this fashion.  In order to properly supervise their brokers each firm is required to have procedures in order to monitor the activities of each advisor’s activities and interaction with the public.  Selling away misconduct often occurs where brokerage firms either fail to put in place a reasonable supervisory system or fail to actually implement that system.  Supervisory failures allow brokers to engage in unsupervised misconduct that can include all manner improper conduct including selling away.

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