Articles Tagged with securities fraud

shutterstock_185913422-300x200In early September, we reported that the investment lawyers of Gana LLP were investigating allegations by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) finding that Sonya Camarco (Camarco) misappropriated over $2.8 million in investor funds from her clients and customers.

In a separate but parallel action, Colorado state authorities have arrested Camarco on charges that she stole $850,000 from clients. According to news sources, a Colorado grand jury indicted Camarco on six counts of securities fraud and seven counts of theft on September 21. Authorities say Camarco operated her scheme between January 2013 and May 2017. An SEC investigator allegedly traced nearly 130 checks from Camarco’s clients’ accounts to a post office box she controlled. Camarco is accused of using the money to pay her own credit card bills and taxes, and to buy real estate.

LPL terminated Camarco in August 2017 “for depositing third party checks from client accounts into a bank account she controlled and accessing client funds for personal use.”

According to BrokerCheck records, beginning in approximately 2004 and continuing through at least August 2017, Camarco allegedly used investor accounts to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in credit card bills, took cash advances on investor accounts, transferred investor funds directly to her personal bank account, and funneled investor funds into her personal bank accounts. Camarco allegedly spent investor funds on the purchase of a house and the payment of her personal mortgage.

Continue Reading

shutterstock_85873471-300x200According to BrokerCheck records financial advisor Michael Keane (Keane), formerly associated with UBS Financial Services Inc. (UBS), has been subject to nine customer complaints.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Keane has been accused by a customers of unsuitable investment advice concerning various investment products including energy stocks, master limited partnerships (MLPs), and business development companies.  The law offices of Gana LLP continue to report on investor related losses and potential legal remedies due to recommendations to investor in oil and gas and commodities related investments.

The most recent claim was filed in October 2017 and alleges that Keane, from February 2011 to September 2017, disregarded instructions by investing in unsuitable high risk energy stocks and MLPs.  The claim is currently pending.

In November 2016 customers alleged that Keane recommended an unsuitable investment strategy in Energy Stocks, MLP’s and Business Development Companies, and further mispresented the risks associated with this investment strategy.  The claim seeks damages of $4,724,136 and is currently pending.

Our firm handles claims and is also investigating securities claims against brokerage firms over sales practices related to the recommendations of oil & gas and commodities products such as exchange traded notes (ETNs), structured notes, private placements, master limited partnerships (MLPs), leveraged ETFs, mutual funds, and individual stocks.

Continue Reading

shutterstock_188606033-300x200According to BrokerCheck records financial advisor Lewis Robinson (Robinson), currently associated with BB&T Securities, LLC (BB&T), has been subject to 10 customer complaints, one regulatory action, and one employment separation for cause.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Robinson has been accused by customers of unsuitable investment advice among other claims.

In August 2017, FINRA found that Robinson settled a customer’s complaint by issuing three checks in the total amount of $12,203.23 to the customer’s wife without the knowledge of his brokerage firm.  FINRA determined that the customer complained on three separate occasions about the amount of commissions that he charged.

In August 2015, Morgan Stanley terminated Robinson for providing unapproved fee reimbursements to a client.

The most recent customer complaint against Robinson was filed in July 2016 and alleged unsuitable investments between 2013 and 2016 causing $104,000 in damages.  The claim was settled for $29,060.

Continue Reading

shutterstock_113872627-300x300The financial advisor rating firm Paladin Research & Registry assembled a list of the top 10 investment scams investors are facing today. If you are involved in any of these potential scams, the investment attorneys at Gana LLP may be able to help you.

1. Ponzi Schemes

Ponzi schemes came in first-place for having stolen more money than any other type of scam. A Ponzi scheme is a fraudulent investment scam where the scammer promises a high rate of return with little or no risk to investors. Ponzi schemes generate returns for investors by acquiring new investors. This is similar to a pyramid scheme in that both are based on using new investors’ funds to pay the earlier backers. The Ponzi scheme unravels when no more new investors are willing to invest and older investors demand the return of their money. The nature of Ponzi schemes (or pyramid schemes) requires investors (who believe they have a strong investment) to tell friends, family and associates about the investments. The influx of new investors provides scam operators with the assets needed to meet the withdrawal requests of the early investors.

shutterstock_155271245-300x300According to BrokerCheck records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) advisor Bruce Barber (Barber), in September 2017, was accused by FINRA of engaging in an undisclosed outside business activity by serving as an advisor to the Board of Directors for ABC, LLC (ABC) and being compensated by the company with warrants.  According to FINRA, Barber solicited 15 clients to invest in ABC’s private securities offering.  At this time it unknown the full extent and scope of Barber’s outside business activities.

In February 2017, Barber’s then employer Securities America, Inc. (Securities America) terminated him stating Barber solicited customers to purchase an unapproved securities product and participated in an unapproved outside business activity.

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”.

Continue Reading

shutterstock_189322280-300x234According to BrokerCheck records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) advisor Patrick Hudson (Hudson), in June 2015, was terminated by his then employer RBC Capital Markets (RBC).  RBC stated that Hudson was terminated due to undisclosed outside business activities and the sale of unapproved products.

Thereafter, in August 2017, FINRA brought action against Hudson finding that Hudson participated in private securities transactions in the form of promissory notes, without providing written notice or seeking written from RBC. FINRA found that Hudson’s outside real estate business entered into a series of promissory notes away from the firm totaling $490,000. In addition, Hudson participated in multiple outside businesses without providing prior written notice to the firm.  FINRA determined that on at least 21 occasions Hudson sent letters on firm letterhead to various third-parties for the purpose of verifying the assets of firm customers but that Hudson failed to submit these letters to the firm’s operations support department for supervisory review.

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”.

Continue Reading

shutterstock_186772637-300x199Gana LLP is examining claims made by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission against broker Michael Siva (Siva). According to BrokerCheck records, Siva and five other individuals allegedly engaged in securities fraud and profited by over $5 million by trading on insider information about dozens of impending corporate mergers, acquisitions, and tender offers.

Siva entered the industry in 1996. He is currently employed at Morgan Stanley and has worked there for 8 years. Between October 2014 and April 2017, Siva allegedly used inside information to make profitable trades for his clients, earning commissions for himself in the process. Mr. Siva also allegedly traded on behalf of himself and his wife based on two of the tips he received.

Securities fraud (a/k/a investment fraud) stems from a variety of deceptive practice in the stock or commodities markets. Securities fraud stems from intentionally false information or the omission of material information that induces an investor to make purchase or sales decisions. Securities fraud violates state and federal securities laws. Securities fraud encompass a wide range of illegal activity, including violations of section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, insider trading, and other illicit activity on trading floors of stock and commodities exchanges. Insider trading is the illegal practice of trading on the stock exchange to one’s own advantage through having access to confidential information.

shutterstock_185190197-300x199The law offices of Gana LLP have recently filed a complaint on behalf of nearly a dozen investors alleging that Dean Mustaphalli (Mustaphalli) engaged in securities fraud.  The claim was brought against brokerage firms Sterne Agee Financial Services, Inc. (Sterne Agee) and Interactive Brokers LLC (Interactive Brokers) alleging that the firms failed to supervise Mustaphalli’s misconduct and otherwise aided his fraud causing them approximately $3,000,000 in losses.

If you unfortunately trusted Mustaphalli with your investments there is still time to act.  Gana LLP’s securities fraud attorneys represent investors who have suffered investment losses at the hands of securities professionals. Details concerning Mustaphalli’s alleged fraud continue to surface.

On June 14th, 2017, New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced charges against Mustaphalli and entities he controlled with defrauding elderly clients out of millions of dollars.  The New York Attorney General alleged that Mustaphalli engaged in a six-year scheme to defraud clients that were elderly and near retirement by investing their money in his hedge fund and in many instances without their knowledge  Schneiderman said in a statement – “As we allege, Dean Mustaphalli squandered and looted $10 million from hardworking individuals. New Yorkers deserve to know that their investments are safe—and financial professionals who won’t play by the rules will face consequences.”

According to the complaint, since 2011, Mustaphalli invested 58 New York funds – total of more than $11 million – in his hedge fund and then lost $10 million by engaging in a risky options trading strategy that was not consistent with his clients’ investment profiles and objectives.  The complaint also alleges that Mustaphalli took an additional $100,000 from his hedge fund to pay for his own personal expenses.

The fund performed horribly losing $6.6 million or 92% in 2012 alone.  By December 2014, the fund’s historical performance was 97.6%, – practically a total loss. When clients complained about losses, Mustaphalli provided false and misleading reasons to blame such as market conditions in oil and because of the election.  Other investors were promised that the fund would stabilize.

Continue Reading

shutterstock_94632238-300x214The experienced securities fraud lawyers of Gana LLP are investigating multiple customer disputes filed with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against broker Andrew Bruce Elsoffer (Elsoffer). According to Elsoffer’s FINRA BrokerCheck records, there are several disclosures on his record pertaining to securities fraud, misrepresentation, unsuitability, breach of fiduciary duty, and negligence amongst other allegations.

Elsoffer entered the securities industry in 1994 and was only registered with Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Inc. until November 2011. He is currently employed at Stifel Nicolaus & Co., Inc. since November 2011. He was previously employed at:

• Bank of America (December 2009 – October 2011)

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.

Continue Reading