Articles Tagged with unauthorized trades

shutterstock_70999552-300x200The investment lawyers of Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating claims against Aegis Capital broker, Paul Falcon (Falcon). Falcon allegedly recommended unsuitable investments, executed unauthorized trades, made excessive transactions and recommended investments that performed properly.

According to BrokerCheck records, Falcon has received four customer complaints and one pending customer complaint.

In April 2017, a customer alleged Falcon recommended unsuitable investments, executed unauthorized trades, made excessive transactions and recommended investments that performed poorly. The customer is seeking $190,000 in damages and the complaint is still pending.

shutterstock_85873471-300x200Gana Weinstein LLP is investigating a customer complaint filed with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) again broker Joeann Mitchell Walker (Walker). According to FINRA’s BrokerCheck records for Walker, there are several settled disclosures on her record. Walker entered the securities industry in 1992 and currently employed at Next Financial Group, Inc. She was previously employed at LPL Financial LLC (8/2006 – 4/2015), Commonwealth Financial Network (7/1998 – 8/2006), American Express Financial Advisors (6/1992 – 7/1998), and IDS Life Insurance Company (06/1992 – 7/1998).

In March 2016, a customer complaint was filed alleging Walker made unauthorized sales of different stocks, unauthorized and unsuitable purchases of variable annuities, and unauthorized mutual fund switches during the period of June 2014 to June 2015 while Walker was employed at LPL Financial LLC. The stated alleged damages were $208,764.00. The claim was settled in November 2016 for the amount of $175,000.00.

Walker has two additional previous disclosures from 2005 and 1999. In April 2005, a claim was filed alleging that Walker practiced in excessive turnovers in the client’s mutual fund account. The claim alleged damages of $30,000.00. This claim was settled in July 2005 for the final settlement amount of $9,900.00.

shutterstock_183201167-300x198The investment attorneys of Gana Weinstein LLP are interested in speaking with clients of broker Parks Heard Brown Jr. (Brown). According to his BrokerCheck records kept by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Brown has been the subject of at least four customer complaints. The customer complaints against Brown allege securities law violations that claim unsuitable investments, churning, unauthorized trading, breach of fiduciary duty, and negligence among other claims.

The most recent complaint was filed in October 2016, alleging that the broker while employed at VSR Financial Services Inc. made unsuitable investments based on the client’s liquidity needs. In March 2014, FINRA found that Brown violated FINRA rules 2090 and 2111 that require the use of reasonable diligence when recommending investment strategies. In addition, a customer alleged an unsuitable series of investments made in account between June 2012 and January 2014 resulting in damages of $245,750.00. The case settled for $71,500.00.

In another case filed in March 2004 a customer alleged that in June 2003 Brown misrepresented and failed to inform the account activity that caused $7,000.00

shutterstock_182053859According to the BrokerCheck records kept by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker Glen Delaney (Delaney) has been the subject of at least 2 customer complaints and 3 judgements or liens. Customers have filed complaints against Delaney alleging securities law violations including unauthorized trades, breach of fiduciary duty, and unsuitable investments among other claims. In addition, Delaney has had difficulty managing his own finances and on August 13, 2015, disclosed a civil judgment of $50,225, on November 19, 2010, disclosed a civil judgement of $9,720, and in 2006 had a civil judgement of $600. Judgements are often a sign that the broker cannot manage their own personal finances and may be tempted to recommend high commission products or strategies to clients in order to satisfy debts.

Delaney entered the securities industry in 2005. Since 2008 Delaney has been registered with Pointe Capital, Inc., until June 2009. From June 2009, until October 2010, Delaney was registered with Global Arena Capital Corp. Thereafter, from October 2010, until April 2012, Delaney was associated with Brookstone Securities, Inc. From April 2012, until June 2015, Delaney was a registered representative of Rockwell Global Capital LLC. From June 2015, until August 2015, Delaney was registered with Primary Capital, LLC. Finally, since August 2015, Delaney has been associated with Craig Scott Capital, LLC out of the firm’s Uniondale, New York office location.

All advisers have a fundamental responsibility to deal fairly with investors including making suitable investment recommendations. In order to make suitable recommendations the broker must have a reasonable basis for recommending the product or security based upon the broker’s investigation of the investments properties including its benefits, risks, tax consequences, and other relevant factors. In addition, the broker must also understand the customer’s specific investment objectives to determine whether or not the specific product or security being recommended is appropriate for the customer based upon their needs.

shutterstock_112362875According to the BrokerCheck records kept by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker Edward Segur (Segur) has been the subject of at least 2 customer complaints, 3 judgements or liens, 1 criminal matter, and 2 regulatory actions. Customers have filed complaints against Segur alleging securities law violations including excessive commissions and unauthorized trades among other claims. In addition, Segur has had difficulty managing his own finances and had a tax lien of $125,687 imposed in February 2015. Tax liens and judgements are often a sign that the broker cannot manage their own personal finances and may be tempted to recommend high commission products or strategies to clients in order to satisfy debts.

Finally, two state regulators have brought actions against Segur. The state of Arkansas alleged that in January 2013, Segur cold called a resident of the state to recommend the purchase of Sandridge Energy, Inc. (Sandridge). At that time Sandridge was trading at about $7 per share and that Segur stated that he had information that the stock would rise to $12 in less than three months because a new chief executive officer would take over Sandridge causing the stock price to increase. The state of Arkansas found that such statements were unjustified and violated the state’s securities laws. In addition, the state of New Hampshire alleged that Segur cold called one of its residents even though the resident was on the state’s do not call list.

Segur entered the securities industry in 1998. An examination of Segur’s employment history reveals that Segur 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 Segur’s 16 year career he has switched firms 22 times even returning to several firms on different occasions. Many of the firms have been expelled by FINRA including John Thomas Financial which was run by Anastasios “Tommy” Belesis who recently agreed to be banned from the securities industry when the SEC accused him of defrauding investors in two hedge funds. In addition, John Thomas faced allegations of penny-stock fraud by FINRA after the firm reaped more than $100 million in commissions over its six-year history before it closed in July. According to new sources trainees at the firm earned as little as $300 a week to pitch stocks with memorized scripts.

shutterstock_160486019According to the BrokerCheck records kept by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker Lucian Hodgman (Hodgman) has been the subject of at least 4 customer complaints, 4 regulatory action, and three employment terminations. Customers have filed complaints against Fladell alleging securities law violations including churning and excessive trading, unsuitable investments, and unauthorized trades among other claims.

Nearly all of the regulatory actions and brokerage firm terminations revolve around allegations of dishonest conduct. For instance in 2001, UBS Financial Services Inc. (UBS) discharged Hodgman stating that he mpurchased a mutual fund in a client’s account without the client’s authority. In April 2002, the NASD alleged that Hodgman effected transactions in a customer’s account without the customer’s knowledge. In 2013, brokerage firm Moors & Cabot, Inc terminated Hodgman stating that the broker failed to cooperate with the firm’s investigation of marketing materials that were sent out to customers without the firm’s knowledge or approval. Thereafter, in December 2013, the Maine Office of Securities alleged that Hodgman made false statements in a record filed with the office in connection with his application to apply to the brokerage firm, Investors Capital Corp. In March 2014, Investors Capital Corp. discharged Hodgman stating that the firm determined that Hodgman was not truthful to the Maine Office of Securities. Thereafter, the state of Massachuestts initiated an action against Hodgman concerning his advertising in the state.

With this history in mind in June 2015, FINRA suspended Hodgman for 18 months alleging that between May and July 2013, Hodgman caused approximately 40,000 copies of advertisement postcards to be sent out through a third-party marketing company without approval of Moors & Cabot. According to FINRA, the postcards contained information about investing in fixed annuities that violated industry standards by failing to provide a sound basis for evaluating an investment in fixed annuities. In addition, FINRA alleged that in July and August 2013, Hodgman falsely represented to his firm that the marketing company had mailed the postcards prematurely and without Hodgman’s knowledge or authorization. To bolster this story, FINRA claims that Hodgman made a telephone call to a Moors & Cabot compliance officer impersonating a representative of the marketing company.

shutterstock_185582According to the BrokerCheck records kept by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker Russell Macke (Macke) has been the subject of at least 5 customer complaints, 2 regulatory actions, and 2 employment terminations, and 7 judgment or liens. Customers have filed complaints against Macke alleging securities law violations including poor investment performance, churning and excessive trading, unsuitable investments, and investment fraud among other claims. The judgment and liens include a $38,000 tax lien, a $108,000 tax lien, a $105,000 tax lien, a $1,500 tax lien, a $110,000 tax lien, a $24,000 tax lien, and a $14,000 tax lien. Macke was terminated by John Hancock in 1998 due to claims that the firm was unable to supervise him. In 2012, Macke was terminated from Forsyth Securities, Inc. due to a Missouri consent order and pending FINRA inquiry.

One of the regulatory actions brought against Macke by FINRA alleged that the broker took advantage of his discretionary authority over two customer accounts by engaging in excessive trading and use of margin in those accounts. FINRA found that Macke caused both customers to pay excessive margin interest, commissions and fees and that the amount of trading in the accounts was inconsistent with the customers’ financial circumstances and investment objectives.

One of the customers was alleged to have opened a brokerage account at Forsyth and was 85 years old and living in a nursing home and the account balance was $390,558. The customer used money from the account to pay health care and living expenses. FINRA found that the customer withdrew $55,923 to pay expenses and that Macke was aware of the customers’ use of the account and these withdrawals. The account forms listed annual income of $60,000, a net worth of $600,000, and liquid assets of $380,000. The account form’s risk tolerance was noted as moderate and the investment objectives were growth and income and trading and speculation.

shutterstock_189100745According to the BrokerCheck records kept by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker Ahmad “Kevin” Wares (Wares) has been the subject of at least seven customer complaints one employment separation, and one judgment/lien over the course of his career. Customers have filed complaints against Wares alleging a litany of securities law violations including that the broker made unsuitable investments, unauthorized trades, churning, negligence, failure to follow instructions, and misrepresentations among other claims.

An examination of Wares’s employment history reveals that Wares 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 Wares’ 15 year career he has worked at 7 different firms of which four have been expelled from FINRA. Since 2008 Wares has been registered with New Castle Financial Services LLC, First Midwest Securities, Inc., and EKN Financial Services Inc. Since September 2012, Wares has been associated with Laidlaw & Company (UK) LTD.

Advisors are not allowed to engage in unauthorized trading. Such trading occurs when a broker sells securities without the prior authority from the investor. The broker must first discuss all trades with the investor before executing them under NYSE Rule 408(a) and FINRA Rules 2510(b).   These rules explicitly prohibit brokers from making discretionary trades in a customers’ non-discretionary accounts. The SEC has also found that unauthorized trading to be fraudulent nature.

shutterstock_128655458According to the BrokerCheck records kept by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker Patrick Teutonico (Teutonico) has been the subject of at least nine customer complaints and one regulatory action over the course of his career. Customers have filed complaints against Persaud alleging a litany of securities law violations including that the broker made unsuitable investments, unauthorized trades, breach of fiduciary duty, churning, negligent supervision, excessive mark ups, and fraud among other claims. In addition to customer complaints, Teutonico was also subject to a regulatory action by FINRA where the regulator found that Teutonico effected unauthorized trades and was fined and suspended.

An examination of Teutonico’s employment history reveals that Teutonico 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 Teutonico’s 17 year career he has worked at 10 different firms. Since 2008 Teutonico has been registered with First Midwest Securities, Inc., A&F Financial Securities, Inc. QA3 Financial Corp., Obsidian Financial Group, LLC. Since December 2012, Teutonico has been associated with Network 1 Financial Securities Inc. located in Lynbrook, New York.

Advisors are not allowed to engage in unauthorized trading. Such trading occurs when a broker sells securities without the prior authority from the investor. The broker must first discuss all trades with the investor before executing them under NYSE Rule 408(a) and FINRA Rules 2510(b).   These rules explicitly prohibit brokers from making discretionary trades in a customers’ non-discretionary accounts. The SEC has also found that unauthorized trading to be fraudulent nature.

shutterstock_127357511Our firm has been tracking the developments related to Thomas Buck’s termination from Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated (Merrill Lynch), now known as Bank of America, NA (Bank of America) under highly unusual circumstances.  (See Top Merrill Lynch Broker Thomas Buck Terminated Under Unusual Circumstances; Update On Broker Thomas Buck Investigation).  Now, according to records kept by FINRA, Buck has accepted a bar from the securities industry.

Buck’s downfall played out quickly.  Buck was terminated from Merrill Lynch on March 6, 2015, shocking colleagues.  At the time of his termination there was only one customer complaint against Buck steaming from a dispute in 2006.  Now, over the past four months customers have filed 11 additional complaints against him.  All of the complaints have similar allegations against Buck in that the customers allege that during a time period Buck engage in unauthorized trades in corporate debt and equities. Several of the complaints allege excessive trading and misrepresentations.

Buck’s team managed nearly $1.5 billion in investor assets and was one of the Merrill Lynch’s largest producers.  According to FINRA, Buck engaged in misrepresentations and other misconduct in the handling of customer accounts.  FINRA alleged that beginning by at least 2009, Buck used unethical and improper business practices to generate increased commissions and enhance his status as a top-producing broker.  According to FINRA, Buck held customer assets in commission-based accounts instead of fee-based accounts for the sole purpose of generating higher revenues even though he knew that some customers would have paid substantially lower fees by using fee-based accounts.  In fact, FINRA goes on to allege that Buck misled customers about the relative costs of fee-based or commission-based trading for their accounts.  In addition to these claims FINRA alleged that Buck exercised discretion in customer accounts without written or oral authorization, and made unauthorized trades in certain accounts.