Articles Tagged with Signator Investors

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_180342155-300x200The law offices of Gana Weinstein LLP continue to investigate the Woodbridge Group of Companies and the Woodbridge Mortgage Funds (Woodbridge).  The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has alleged that the Woodbridge operated a billion-dollar Ponzi scheme ensnaring about 8,400 investors. Woodbridge solicited hundreds of disreputable insurance agents and investment brokers to sell its false notes that the firm claimed to be backed by mortgages.  In plain sight to regulators, Woodbridge engaged in a nationwide investment fraud by offering the sale of unregistered securities.

One of Woodbridge’s agents appears to be Dee Dee Brooks (Brooks) formerly associated with Signator Investors, Inc. (Signator Investors).  In June 2018 Brooks resigned from Signator Investors while under investigation concerning her involvement with the sale of unregistered securities.  Brooks also operated an insurance company called Surf City Insurance Services, Inc. (Surf City) which may have been used by Brooks to conceal investments.  Federal securities laws and the FINRA rules require firms to monitor and supervise its employees, like Brooks, 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.  Supervisory failures allow brokers to engage in unsupervised misconduct that can include all manner improper conduct including recommending fraudulent investments.

The signs that the Woodbridge Funds was a giant fraud debacle ware all apparent.  Woodbridge and its agents have been sanctioned by multiple state regulators for offering unregistered securities.  Going back to May 2015, the Massachusetts Securities Division imposed a bar on the Woodbridge Mortgage Investment Funds and ordered the companies to permanently cease and desist from selling unregistered or non-exempt securities in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

shutterstock_62862913-259x300The law offices of Gana Weinstein LLP continue to investigate the Woodbridge Group of Companies and the Woodbridge Mortgage Funds (Woodbridge).  The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has alleged that the Woodbridge operated a billion-dollar Ponzi scheme ensnaring about 8,400 investors. Woodbridge solicited hundreds of disreputable insurance agents and investment brokers to sell its false notes that the firm claimed to be backed by mortgages.  In plain sight to regulators, Woodbridge engaged in a nationwide investment fraud by offering the sale of unregistered securities.

According to public filings two of Woodbridge’s agents appears to be David and Sandra Ferwerda (Ferwerda).  David Ferwerda was formerly associated with Signator Investors, Inc. (Signator Investors) out of the firm’s Grand Rapids, Michigan office location.  In March 2018 Ferwerda was terminated from Signator Investors for involvement in the sale of unapproved outside investments in violation of firm policy.

Federal securities laws and the FINRA rules require firms to monitor and supervise its employees, like Ferwerda, 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.  Supervisory failures allow brokers to engage in unsupervised misconduct that can include all manner improper conduct including recommending fraudulent investments.

shutterstock_138129767-300x199According to BrokerCheck records Brian Murphy (Murphy) has been sanctioned and barred by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) over allegations that the broker failed to respond to the regulator’s requests for information.  In July 2016, Murphy was terminated by his firm Signator Investors, Inc. (Signator) on allegations that Murphy admitted to conducting an unapproved outside business activity.  In the industry all such activities must be disclosed and approved by the firm before the broker can engage in them.

Murphy has been terminated by three employers in total during his career.  In November 2014 Murphy was terminated by MetLife Securities, Inc. (MetLife) for making a representation that he had a professional designation that he did not in fact possess.  In addition, Murphy has been subject to a number of customer complaints concerning the sale of variable annuities.

At this time it is unclear what outside business activity Murphy was engaged in.  However, the risk to investors is that the broker will use such businesses to engage in unauthorized securities 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”.

shutterstock_145368937The investment fraud lawyers of Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating the employment termination filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) by Woodbury Financial Services, Inc. (Woodbury Financial) involving broker David Ross (Ross). According to BrokerCheck records Ross is subject to one customer complaint, one employment separation for cause, and six judgment or liens.

According to Woodbury Financial, the firm terminated Ross after alleging Ross failed to disclose an outside business activity (OBA) and accepted loans form a client in addition to violating other firm policies and procedures.  Often times such filings indicate that the broker is engaging potentially in private securities transactions, promissory notes, or loans away from the firm.  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”.

At this time it unclear the scope of Ross’ OBAs and/or private securities transactions.  According to brokercheck records Ross has disclosed OBAs listed as including Ross Financial Planning, Inc., Belmont University, and First Shot Foundation.  Often times, brokers sell promissory notes and other investments through side businesses as accountants, lawyers, real estate brokers, or insurance agents to clients of those side practices.

shutterstock_180341738The investment fraud lawyers of Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating the regulatory investigation filed by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against broker Scott Muirhead (Muirhead). According to BrokerCheck records Muirhead is subject to one bankruptcy filing in 2013 and one criminal matter.  The FINRA regulatory matter concerns the agencies attempt to investigate the circumstances surrounding alleged sales of private securities transactions. (FINRA No. 2015044785301).  When Muirhead refused to cooperate with the investigation, FINRA automatically barred Muirhead from the industry.

According to FINRA, Muirhead consented the entry of findings that he failed to respond to FINRA’s requests for documents during its investigation into allegations that Muirhead engaged in unapproved private securities transactions and misused customer funds.  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”.  At this time it unclear the nature and scope of Muirhead’s outside business activities and private securities transactions.  Often times, brokers sell promissory notes and other investments through side businesses as accountants, lawyers, or insurance to clients of those side practices.

Muirhead entered the securities industry in 2006.  From April 2008 until September 2010 Muirhead was registered with Princor Financial Services Corporation.  From September 2010 until March 2011 Muirhead was associated with Bright Trading, LLC.  Thereafter from June 2011 until June 2012 Muirhead was registered with Signator Investors, Inc.  Then from June 2012 until November 2012, Muirhead was associated with Multi-Financial Securities Corporation.  Finally, from March 2014 until December 2014, Muirhead was associated with Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated out of the firm’s Jacksonville, Florida office location.

shutterstock_186471755The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) sanctioned broker James Moniz (Moniz) concerning allegations that while registered with Signator Investors, Inc. (Signator) Moniz made unsuitable recommendations to a married couple that they purchase a Variable Universal Life insurance policy (VUL) on the husband’s life and use the proceeds of a reverse mortgage to purchase a variable annuity and open a managed investment account. According to FINRA, after the insurance company questioned the VUL application, Moniz caused the application to be re-submitted with changed or added information without first informing the customers of his actions. FINRA found that Moniz also inaccurately represented the source of funds for the variable annuity and managed account.

VUL are complex dual part insurance and investment products that investors must fully understand the risks and benefits of prior to investing. One feature of a VUL policy is that the owner can allocate a portion of his premium payments to a separate sub-account that can be used to grow in value through investments. The other part of the investment is the life insurance policy where the policies monthly charges including a cost of insurance charge and administrative fees are deducted from the policy’s cash value. The cash value of the policy may increase or decrease based on the performance of the selected investments. However, customers must be careful in purchasing VULs because the policy terminates, or lapses, if at any time the net cash surrender value is insufficient to pay the monthly cost deductions. When the policy terminates the remaining cash value becomes worthless.

Given the costs involved in purchasing VULs, brokers must be careful to ensure that the recommendation to invest in VULs is suitable for the client. While an investor may be able to afford the initial purchase price of the policy it may be too expensive for the client to continue to make premium contributions over time causing the policy to lapse.