The US Securities and Exchange Commission is accusing broker-dealer Prime Capital Services Inc., income tax preparation business Gilman Ciocia Inc., and seven individuals of defrauding senior investors in Florida. The agency claims that the two companies, as well as the individuals named, allegedly used “free” lunch seminars that resulted in the sales of unsuitable variable annuities and, on occasion, millions of dollars in commission.
Robert Khuzami, the SEC Enforcement Director, called the free lunches “bait” for the scam. Elderly investors who are persuaded to purchase unsuitable financial products frequently are never able to fully recover their financial losses, which can severely deplete their retirement savings.
In addition to cease and desist proceedings against the respondents, the SEC is seeking remedial action, including civil penalties and disgorgement. According to the attorney representing PCS, Gilman, PCS President Michael P. Ryan, CCO Rose M. Rudden, one of the registered representatives, and one of the supervisors, the conduct under question occurred in the late ’90’s and 2000’s and has been remedied for some time. The respondents plan to defend themselves against the charges.
SEC investigators say the senior investment fraud scam occurred between November 1999 and February 2007 and that during appointments conducted with seminar participants, PCS representatives either left out important information or made misrepresentations about variable annuities. For example, PCS representatives are accused of telling investors they would have unrestricted access to the money they invested but did not tell them that there would be substantial charges if they withdrew their money early.
The SEC claims that representatives’ commissions when selling variable annuities was 6%. Their commission on other investment products was just 3%. The agency also claims that Ryan and a number of supervisors neglected to implement PCS’s supervisory procedure to identify when misconduct was occurring, as well as prevent broker misconduct from happening.
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Read the SEC’s Order (PDF)