January 27, 2016

Ameriprise Must Pay Woman’s Estate Over $2M For Broker Fraud

A Financial Industry Arbitration panel says that Ameriprise Financial (AMP) must pay over $2M to the estate of Glenny B. White for losses related to fraud committed by an ex-firm broker. The executor of White’s estate claims that Ameriprise Financial Services did not properly supervise former broker Jeffrey Davis.

In 2014, Davis admitted to stealing money from White and other clients. White was his client for almost ten years before she found out in 2013 that he was stealing funds from her. She died at the age of 91 in 2014.

Davis has since been fired from Ameriprise, and FINRA barred him from the brokerage industry. Last year, he was sentenced to over four years in prison after pleading guilty to wire fraud and admitting to stealing almost $200K from clients.

On Finra’s BrokerCheck report about Davis, it is noted that in at least two cases involving Ameriprise clients the firm had reported to the regulator that their funds were misappropriated.

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January 4, 2016

FINRA Bars Ex-National Securities Broker Zachary Bader Over Investor Fraud Allegations

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority is permanently barring former National Securities broker Zachary Bader from the securities industry in the wake of allegations filed by numerous investors. Bader, who was let go from the National Securities Corporation, also was previously registered with Craig Scott Capital and Brookstone Securities. According to BrokerCheck, five customer complaints and two regulatory sanctions have been brought against him.

Bader is accused of excessive trading, making unsuitable investment recommendations to at least 21 customers by advising them to put their money in the iPath S&P 500 VIX Short Term Futures ETN (VXX), showing reckless disregard of clients’ interests, improper due diligence, breach of fiduciary duty, churning, providing inadequate investment advice, and breach of contract.


iPath S&P 500 VIX Short Term (VXX)
The iPath S&P 500 VIX Short Term is an exchange-traded note. Many ETNs are only appropriate for short-term trading and/or institutional investors. For example, the VXX exposes investors to returns of certain futures contracts on the VIX Index and it is considered a bearish investment. It is not appropriate for certain equity positions. The VXX comes with very specific risks and over time will lose value as futures contracts on the VIX Index go down too.


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December 24, 2015

Cantor Fitzgerald to Pay $7.3M Over Microcap Sales

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) is ordering Cantor Fitzgerald to pay $7.3 million for selling billions of unregistered microcap shares in 2011 and 2012. The firm is also facing sanctions for not having the proper supervisory /anti-money laundering programs in place to identify suspect activity or red flags related to microcap activity.

According to the self-regulatory organization, the Cantor Fitzgerald’s supervisory system was not designed in a reasonable enough manner to fulfill its obligation to assess whether the microcap securities it was liquidating for clients were SEC-registered or, if not, then were subject to a registration exemption. FINRA said that after Cantor Fitzgerald decided to broaden its microcap liquidity business in 2011, it did not make sure its supervisory system had a meaningful and reasonable way to determine whether the sales of these securities occurred in compliance with the law. Also, said the regulator, the firm did not provide proper guidance and training about how or when to look into whether a sale was exempt from SEC registration, and supervisors were not given the tools that they needed to identify when red flags were an indicator of unregistered, illegal distributions.

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December 3, 2015

SEC Approves Change to FINRA's BrokerCheck On When to Publish Firings

The Securities and Exchange Commission has approved the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s plan to shorten the waiting period for when certain information reported on Form U5 can be released on BrokerCheck.com from 15 days to three days. This includes information about broker firings. The modification will go into effect on December 12.

Brokerage firms use Form U5 to give notice of when a broker has been let go. This notification is published on BrokerCheck, which is a public database that includes background information about registered brokers, as well whether any of them have a disciplinary history and what that may be.

The 15 days was so that brokers could have time to explain why they were fired. FINRA, however, has now decided that it is important to notify the public of such terminations sooner than that so that the investors who are thinking hiring these brokers receive this employment history right away. The self-regulatory organization says that it believes three business days still gives a broker a chance to comment on his/her firing.

BrokerCheck.com is an excellent resource for looking up information about a broker and his/her history. It’s important as an investor that you do your due diligence when considering whether to have someone handle your investments and finances. You can also get information about a broker from the Central Registration Depository, which is a computerized database. Another way to find out about a broker is to call your state securities regulator and request access to his/her registration, disciplinary, and employment information. You can get information about how to reach your state regulator through the North American Securities Administrators Association’s website.

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November 18, 2015

Securities Fraud Cases: Wedbush to Pay $813K Over Investment Fraud Allegations, SEC Files Pump-and-Dump Charges in Marley Coffee Case, and CFTC Accuses IB Capital of Soliciting $50M for Forex Trading While Unregistered

Wedbush to Pay Trusts, Family Members Over $813,000
A Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Panel says that Wedbush securities and investment advisor Kevin Thomas Scarpelli must jointly and severally pay several investors over $813,000 to resolve allegations of professional negligence and failure to supervise related to investments made in Natural Resources USA Corp. The respondents denied the allegations and asked that the claims be thrown own.

After considering the pleadings, evidence, and testimony, the panel decided that Wedbush and Scarpelli must pay claimants: Mary L. Riscornia TTEE nearly $263,000, Jennifer Tiscornia over $252,313, Nicolas E. Toussaint over $55,300, Nicolas E. Toussaint TTEE over $1800, Michael J. Nicolai over $18,4000, Michael Nicolai TTEE over $156,221, Jeffrey M. Nicolai over $22,154, Katherine M. Nicolai over $22,000 and Alexandria P. Nicolai over $22,000 in damages, interest, legal fees, and costs. The FINRA panel denied Scarpelli's request to have his record expunged of this securities case.


SEC Files Charges in $78M Pump-and-Dump Scam Involving Jammin’ Java Stock, Marley Trademark
The Securities and Exchange Commission is accusing ex-Jammin’ Java CEO Shane Whittle of masterminding a $78 million pump-and-dump scam involving the company’s shares. Jammin’ Java operates Marley Coffee, which uses the late reggae legend Bob Marley’s trademark to sell products.

According to the regulator, Whittle used a reverse merger to—in secret—get control of millions of Jammin’ Java shares, which he then spread to offshore entities under the control of Michael Sun, Wayne Weaver, and René Berlinger. The shares were dumped on the public after their price rose in the wake of bogus promotional campaigns. Whittle purportedly hid the scam by making misleading omissions and statements in reports submitted to the SEC.

Continue reading "Securities Fraud Cases: Wedbush to Pay $813K Over Investment Fraud Allegations, SEC Files Pump-and-Dump Charges in Marley Coffee Case, and CFTC Accuses IB Capital of Soliciting $50M for Forex Trading While Unregistered " »

November 7, 2015

Securities Headlines: FINRA Seeking to Fine MetLife Over Variable Annuity Sales, SEC Accuses Scottish Trader of Sending Fake Tweets, Market Rigging, and Judge Orders Man to Stop Crowdfunding Fraud

FINRA Plans to Fine MetLife for Purported Variable Annuities Violations
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority is looking to impose a significant fine against MetLife’s broker-dealer unit related to possible violations involving variable annuities. The company is cooperating with the regulator’s probe, which is looking at alleged suitability, misrepresentation, and supervision issues related to the selling and replacements of variable annuities.

According to MetLife’s quarterly regulatory filing, FINRA told the insurance giant that it plans to recommend disciplinary action. InvestmentNews reports that in an e-mailed statement, MetLife spokesperson John Calagna said that the company did not agree with the conclusions reached by the regulator and plans to defend itself.

SEC Charges Scottish Trader with Over Market Rigging Involving False Tweets
The Securities and Exchange Commission has filed securities fraud charges against James Alan Craig of Scotland for allegedly filing false tweets that caused sharp declines in the stock prices of two companies, even causing one of them to experience a trading halt. The regulator said that Craig sent out false statements via Twitter on accounts that he deceptively set up to make them look like legitimate Twitter accounts of known securities research firms.

According to the SEC’s complaint, Craig’s first bogus tweets caused the share price of one company to drop 28% until Nasdaq temporarily stopped trading. The next day, he sent out false tweets about another company that led to a 16% drop in the share prices of that company. Both days he purchased and sold shares of the companies he targeted to try to profit from the sharp price changes. He was mostly successful in his efforts.

Continue reading "Securities Headlines: FINRA Seeking to Fine MetLife Over Variable Annuity Sales, SEC Accuses Scottish Trader of Sending Fake Tweets, Market Rigging, and Judge Orders Man to Stop Crowdfunding Fraud " »

November 2, 2015

FINRA Cautions Against Binary Options and Their Risk of Fraud

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority has issued a warning about the risks involved with binary options trading. The alert comes in the wake of numerous calls the regulator has received through its Securities Helpline for Seniors – HELPS™. According to callers, there are business entities claiming to be binary options trading firms that are failing to deposit investors’ funds into their accounts, refusing to give investors back their money, or demanding a payment fee to make such a refund. One fraudster even purportedly pretended to be a regulator organization and demanded that investor pay money for taking part in an allegedly illegal binary options trading.

FINRA wants investors to be especially careful of non-US companies that offer binary options trading platforms, especially trading applications with names implying easy wealth, as well as demo accounts that give users a chance to try binary potions tradings without risking assets.

The self-regulatory organization said that these types of accounts may act as bait to get investors to ultimately fund a “real” account. Exposure to such accounts may also expose people to identity theft as they hand over personal information and other details.

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October 20, 2015

FINRA Orders 12 Financial Firms to Pay $6.7M for Not Charging UIT Purchase Discounts

Twelve financial firms will pay over $4 million in restitution and fines of over $2.6M for purportedly not applying sales charge discounts to the sale of Unit Investment Trusts. The fines are also for supposed supervisory failures.

The firms and the payments they will make include:
• First Allied Securities, Inc., which will pay over $689K in restitution and a $325K fine.
• Huntington Investment Company, which will pay over $60K in restitution and a $75K fine.
• Fifth Third Securities, Inc., which will pay over $663K in restitution and a $300K fine.
• Infinex Investments, Inc., which will pay over $109K in restitution and a $150K fine.
• Securities America, Inc., which will pay over $477K in restitution and a $275K fine.
• Ameritas Investment Corp., which will pay over $128K in restitution and a $150K fine.
• Cetera Advisors LLC, which will pay over $452K in restitution and a $250K fine.
• Park Avenue Securities LLC, which will pay over $443K in restitution and a $300K fine.
• Comerica Securities, which will pay over 151K in restitution and a $150K fine.
• Commonwealth Financial Network, which will pay over $357K in restitution and a $225K fine.
• Cetera Advisor Networks LLC, which will pay over $151K in restitution and a $150K fine.
• MetLife Securities, Inc., which will pay over $349K in restitution and a $300K fine.

A UIT is an investment company that offers a redeemable unit of a portfolio of securities that is usually fixed and will end on a certain date. Although yearly operating costs are not very high, there are sales charges up front, as well as deferred sales charges, development fees, creation fees, and organization costs.

The sponsors of UITs usually offer breakpoint discounts, which is a lower price determined by the dollar amount of the purchase. The greater the purchase, the larger the discount. They also typically offer exchange discounts, also known as rollover discounts. This is a lower sales charge offered to investors who use the proceeds from the redemption or termination of one UIT to buy another one.

The plaintiffs claim that because they didn’t get the warranted discounts, they ended up paying more for their purchases. By settling, the firms are not admitting to or denying the findings.

FINRA Sanctions 12 Firms a Total of $6.7 Million for Failing to Apply Sales Charge Discounts to Customers' Purchases of UITs, FINRA, October 20, 2015

Unit Investment Trusts (UITs), SEC

October 13, 2015

Santander Securities to Pay $6.4M Over Puerto Rico Muni Bond and Closed-End Fund Sales

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) says that it is ordering Santander Securities LLC (Santander) to pay $6.4M for supervisory failures involving the sale of Puerto Rico Municipal Bonds and Puerto Rico closed-end funds. Of the payment to FINRA, $2 million is a fine and censure and over $4.3 million is customer restitution.

The restitution will go toward certain customers who were solicited to buy the municipal bonds. Santander will pay $121,000 and make rescission offers to repurchase the securities from certain customers that were affected by the firm’s purported failure to supervise employees while they were trading.

FINRA said that between December 2012 and October 2013, Santander failed to make sure that its proprietary product risk-classification tool accurately reflected the risks of investing in Puerto Rico bonds. The regulator contends that the systems and procedures that were in place at Santander did not mandate an evaluation or review of this tool, which is what its representatives used when recommending financial products to customers.

For example, said FINRA, when “significant market events” occurred, such as when credit rating agency Moody's downgraded a number of Puerto Rico bonds—including Puerto Rico General Obligation bonds—to a level just above junk, Santander did not re-examine the tool’s risk classifications for the bonds. Instead, one day after the credit rating agency issued its ratings downgrade, the firm stopped buying the municipal bonds that its customers in Puerto Rico wanted to sell and ramped up its efforts to lower the firm’s own Puerto Rico municipal bond inventory.

Continue reading "Santander Securities to Pay $6.4M Over Puerto Rico Muni Bond and Closed-End Fund Sales " »

October 10, 2015

SEC Approves Rule Requiring Firms, Brokers Link to BrokerCheck

Over two years after it was initially proposed, a FINRA rule requiring that broker-dealers include a link to the self-regulatory organization’s BrokerCheck database has been approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The rule slated to go into effect, at the latest, at 180 days after the FINRA regulatory notice is published in the Federal Register. The deadline for publishing the notice is December 7, 2015.

Per the rule, a brokerage firm will have to include an obvious reference and hyperlink to the front page of FINRA’s BrokerCheck.com. Links to BrokerCheck would also have to be included on the profile pages of each broker.

FINRA has been trying to make retail investors more aware that BrokerCheck exists. The online database includes the work history of every registered broker, where they are registered, and other information, such as if they’ve been subject to disciplinary measures or named on previous securities cases.

A previous version of the proposed rule had called for LinkedIn and Twitter profiles of brokers to also include links back to BrokerCheck. However, rather than link directly to that home page, the hyperlink would have taken an investor to the BrokerCheck profile of a particular representative. Many in the industry, however, were strongly opposed to that mandate.

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September 26, 2015

Broker Fraud News: Ex-Dallas Broker Faces Prison, Fintegra Files for Bankruptcy, and Broker Who Promised Investors They’d Double Their Money Can No Longer Sell Securities

Ex-Dallas Broker Accused of Texas Securities Fraud Face Five Years
Wade Lawrence, a former Dallas broker, has pleaded guilty to Texas securities fraud. As part of his plea bargain the 43-year-old will have to forfeit $1.5 million and pay over $250,000 in fines. He also faces up to five years behind bars for his $2.1 million securities scam.

According to prosecutors, over the course of working for several securities firm over the last seven years, Lawrence falsely offered risky investments with the promise of 20% to 100% returns. He lost a significant amount of money and invested just a portion of investors’ funds. Lawrence used a lot of investors' cash to cover his own living expenses, personal travel, as well as pay for fancy jewelry. The Associated Press reports that to date Lawrence has given back $581,000 to investors.


Minnesota-Based Brokerage Firm Files for Bankruptcy
Broker-dealer Fintegra has filed for bankruptcy in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Minnesota. The firm had to stop its securities business in June after it was hit with a $1.5M arbitration award that placed it under the $250,000 regulatory net capital requirements of minimum.

According to the FINRA arbitration panel, Finestra and a broker violated state anti-fraud provisions related to the sale of Miasole Investments II, an unregistered security. The securities fraud complaint, submitted by Fintegra customers, states that the broker-dealer could only pay $300,000 of the award. However, InvestmentNews reported that the attorneys for one of the clients said that to date none of the award has been paid.

Fintegra, in its FOCUS report with the SEC, admitted that it had been named in five separate lawsuits, all involving the alleged sale of securities that were either unsuitable or violated state securities laws.

Continue reading " Broker Fraud News: Ex-Dallas Broker Faces Prison, Fintegra Files for Bankruptcy, and Broker Who Promised Investors They’d Double Their Money Can No Longer Sell Securities" »

September 19, 2015

FINRA Headlines: Regulator Seeks to Curb Broker Record Expungement, Continues to Fight Elder Abuse and Issues Liquidity Risk Management Guidance

FINRA Takes Action to Make It Harder for Brokers to Expunge Their Disciplinary Records
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s Board has given the regulator permission to ask for public comment on a plan that would establish tougher requirements for when a broker would be allowed to expunge disciplinary actions from his/her BrokerCheck record. The proposed rule would update existing arbitration rules regarding the expungement of information related to customer disputes.

One proposed requirement is that an arbitration panel would have to get a copy of the BrokerCheck report when determining whether to grant an expungement request. The panel then would have to give more details about its reason to recommend a request.

According to a 2013 study by the Public Investors Arbitration Bar Association, expungement requests have been granted in up to 90% of cases that ended in an award or settlement. However, in 2014 the SEC signed off on a rule preventing broker-dealers from conditioning a settlement so that a claimant cannot counter expungement after the case is resolved.

FINRA Board Continues to Fight Elder Financial Abuse
FINRA’s board has given the self-regulatory authority permission to put out a rule proposal that would protect older investors and other vulnerable investors.

Under the rule, firms would be obligated to get the name and contact data of a trusted individual when opening an account for a customer. The rule also would let a firm, if it suspects financial fraud, freeze the money in accounts of senior investors age 65 and over, as well as the accounts of adults with physical or mental impairments. The concern is that such impairments may make it difficult for them to protect their best interests especially when they are being bilked.

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September 14, 2015

FINRA Bars Global Arena Capital Brokers for Cockroaching, Churning, and Other Securities Violations

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority has barred seven brokers accused of committing violations and repeatedly transferring from one brokerage firm to another from the securities industry. The brokers worked at the brokerage firm Global Arena Capital Corp. Also barred is the broker-dealer’s president, Barbara L. Desiderio. She is accused of letting the brokers engage in stockbroker fraud and deceiving the regulator.

The other brokers are David Awad, Alex Wildermuth, Peter Snetzko, James Torres, and Michael Tannen. Global Arena branch managers Kevin Hagan and Richard Bohak have been barred from serving in a principal role. Brokers Andrew Marzec and Niaz Elmazi were barred for not cooperating with the regulator’s probe.

According to FINRA, while at the firm, the brokers used sales pitches that were misleading, churned accounts, and committed other abusive acts. Seven of the brokers who were barred had been placed on heightened supervision by the self-regulatory organization when they exited HFP Capital Markets to go work at Global Arena. HFP Capital Markets has since been expelled from the industry by FINRA.

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August 22, 2015

FSC Securities to Be Held Accountable for $1.2M FINRA Arbitration Award Issued to Victims of Ponzi Scammer Who Faked His Death

A Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc. panel said that FSC Securities Corp. is responsible for a $1.2 million arbitration award for compensatory damages to investors that were bilked by Aubrey Lee Price, the infamous Ponzi scammer from Georgia who tried to fake his death to in 2012. FSC Securities is a broker-dealer with AIG Advisor Group (AIG).

The eight claimants contend that the brokerage firm did not supervise a number of brokers who sold them fraudulent securities that were part of Price’s $40 million Ponzi scam. According to their securities lawyer, Price and two other ex-FSC brokers persuaded clients to invest in the PFG fund, an unregistered investment fund, which was the main product of the scheme.

When the trading account sustained huge losses Price prepared account statements for investors that noted fake asset amounts and investment returns. The claimants believe that FSC failed to properly supervise its brokers and had numerous chances to detect that Price and the other brokers were selling away into the PFG fund while claiming “preposterous” return rates.

Price was an FSC broker from 2006 to 2008. Prior to that he worked at Citigroup Global Markets (C) and Banc of America Investment Services (BAC). Last year, a federal judge sentenced him to 30 years behind bars for bank fraud.

Continue reading "FSC Securities to Be Held Accountable for $1.2M FINRA Arbitration Award Issued to Victims of Ponzi Scammer Who Faked His Death" »

August 14, 2015

Ex-Caldwell Broker is Barred by FINRA for Churning Accounts

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority has permanently barred ex-Caldwell International Securities Corp. broker Richard Adams from the industry. Adams is accused of churning customer accounts.


According to FINRA, from July 2013 to June 2014, Adams engaged in excessive trading and churned the accounts of two customers, making close to $57,000 in commissions. The customers lost over $37,000 as a result.

Adams is also accused of not reporting numerous unsatisfied judgments and liens on his U4 Registration Form, which he is required to do under FINRA rules. By settling the civil case against him, Adams is not denying or admitting to the charges.

Churning
This type of illegal activity typically involves a broker engaging in the excessive selling or buying of securities in a customer account for the purpose of earning commissions. Signs of possible churning may include frequent in-and-out purchase and securities sales that appear unrelated to the customer’s investment goals.

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August 4, 2015

Aegis Capital Fined $950K by FINRA Over Penny Stock Sales

Aegis Capital Corp. must pay $950,000 to resolve allegations that it engaged in the improper sales of billions of shares of unregistered penny stock. The securities case was brought by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority last August. According to the self-regulatory organization, the New York-based brokerage firm facilitated a penny stock scheme that resulted in $24.5 million in customer profits and $1.1 million in commissions. Aegis is also accused of supervisory lapses related to anti-money laundering.

The SRO said that from April 2009 to June 2011 the brokerage firm liquidated about 3.9 billion shares of five penny stocks that were unregistered even though they should have been registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Also, FINRA contends, Aegis and compliance officers disregarded red flags related to the transactions.

For example, an ex-securities broker who was barred from the industry was the one who referred the customers involved to Aegis. This broker controlled the activity in a number of accounts at the firm. Without looking further into this questionable scenario, Aegis sold the unregistered shares.

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July 21, 2015

Royal Alliance Must Pay $1.4M To Retirees for Nontraded REIT, Variable Annuities Sales

A Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc. panel says that AIG Advisor Group (AIG) subsidiary Royal Alliance Associates Inc. must pay $1.4 million to three retirees who claim that the brokerage firm was negligent when supervising the sales of variable annuities and nontraded real estate investment trusts. The investors, who were former AT & T Inc. employees, claim that ex-broker Kathleen Tarr recommended that they take a lump-sum buyout from the communications company instead of a lifetime annuity. The money was then put into nontraded REIT company Inland Real Estate, as well as different variable annuities.

Tarr’s BrokerCheck record shows that she has been named in about forty customer disputes and complaints. She was let go from Royal Alliance in 2010.

The claimants, who are low-wealth, low income seniors, believe that they should not have been encouraged to take a lump sum and place their funds into non-traded REITs and variable annuities involving an IRA. Even though they did not sustain out-of-pocket losses from the investment recommendations, the retirees purportedly lost out on earnings they would have made if only they had invested their money more reasonably or opted for the lifetime annuity. With the latter, an investor would have given over a lump sum figure in return for a guaranteed payout for the duration of his/her life.

Continue reading " Royal Alliance Must Pay $1.4M To Retirees for Nontraded REIT, Variable Annuities Sales" »

July 4, 2015

FINRA Orders BNP Paribas Securities to Pay Retired Couple $16.6M for Unsuitable Investment Sale

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority says that BNP Paribas Securities Corp. has to pay retirees James and Margaret Eringer $16.6 million for selling them a leveraged derivative call option, which was not a suitable investment for them. This securities claim, which was brought in 2010, is the longest running case that FINRA has presided over. The arbitration panel finally issued a ruling after over 90 days of hearings.

The Eringers made their money when they sold a bakery business that belonged to one of their parents. The British couple spent about 60% of their investible assets on the investment in 2007.

According to their securities attorney, they made the purchase through Ontonimo Limited, which is a corporate entity that BNP Paribas mandated they create since the firm could not directly sell this kind of security to retail investors. This type of investment product is usually sold to institutional clients and hedge funds.

The Eringers paid BNP over $2 million for costs and fees. The firm also purportedly made James Eringer sign an agreement indicating that he was an investment adviser himself even though he had no professional financial experience nor did he have a securities license. Within 18 months, the Eringers’ contend, their investment became “worthless.”

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June 22, 2015

Investor Want Wells Fargo Advisers to Pay $100K in Damages Over F-Squared Investment Losses

A client of Wells Fargo Advisors (WFC) is looking to recover at least $100,000 in damages for losses he sustained from investing with F-Squared Investments Inc. The arbitration case comes six months after F-Squared consented to pay $35 million to resolve Securities and Exchange Commission charges accusing the asset manager of making false claims about its flagship investment product’s performance. The 68-year-old widower’s claim will test whether investors can pursue broker-dealers for selling F-Squared products.

The claimant, a moderately conservative investor who was looking for moderately conservative growth for his retirement account assets, began working with a Wells Fargo financial adviser in 2011. The brokerage firm made F-Squared managed-accounts available to advisors in 2013.

According to InvestmentNews, The investor’s advisor put about $900K of the client’s money—most of his savings, says his attorney—in products managed by two ETF strategists. Over 50% of the money went into F-Squared’s AlphaSector Allocator Select. Meantime, the investor said it paid Wells Fargo about $19,000 in fees for recommending the products. He believes that the firm had a conflict when it recommended investments because they came with such high commissions. Also, the fees erased potential capital gains for the claimant.

Continue reading " Investor Want Wells Fargo Advisers to Pay $100K in Damages Over F-Squared Investment Losses" »

June 10, 2015

Investors Targeted by Advanced-Fee Scams Using Bogus Regulator Websites and Fake Broker Identities

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority issued an alert warning non-U.S. and U.S. investors about scammers who use fake regulator websites and identities to steal money. Some scammers have even used FINRA’s name or pretended to be employed by the self-regulatory organization.

These fraudsters will typically ask for an advance payment of a service fee and then disappear upon receipt of the money. The fee is supposedly for services that involve buying non-performing stock that already belongs to the person they are targeting with the offer to pay a high price. The fraudster may even pretend to be a securities regulator or industry professional.

According to FINRA, there are investors in the UK who have received phone calls from individuals claiming to be with securities firm that were subject to disciplinary actions by regulators. These callers will typically try to procure advance payment for the return of money that was lost while the investor was associated with the firm.

U.S. investors have also been targeted. The Securities Investor Protection Corporation even issued its own warning against scammers pretending to be the SIPC or another organization with similar powers. SIPC has the authority to keep up a reserve fund for customers of brokerage firms that become insolvent. However firm liquidations that go through SIPC do not require investors to pay a fee so they can recover their monies.

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