Investor Fraud: Strong Investment Management Faces Allegations of Cherry Picking, a $2.5M Financial Scam Leads to Convictions, and a Former Investment Adviser Is Sentenced to Serve Prison Time

SEC Accused Investment Adviser of Profiting from Cherry Picking
The US Securities and Exchange Commission has filed a civil fraud case against Strong Investment Management, which is a California-based investment adviser, and its president/owner Joseph B. Bronson. The regulator is accusing them of running a cherry picking scam that defrauded the firm’s clients.

The Commission contends that Bronson used Strong’s omnibus account to trade securities but would wait to see how they performed during the day before distributing them to certain client accounts. Meantime, Bronson purportedly made healthy profits at cost to clients by cherry picking the trades. He is accused of giving himself trades that were profitable while sending unprofitable ones to firm clients.

The SEC’s complaint contends that in Forms ADV, Bronson and Strong misrepresented trading and allocation practices by falsely stating that every trade would be allocated according to the terms of pre-trade allocation statements with no preference granted to any account. Bronson’s brother, ex-Strong chief compliance officer John B. Engebreston, is accused of not fulfilling his job by failing to make sure that Strong’s policies and procedures for trade allocation were followed. He also is accused of “repeatedly” ignoring “red flags” when it came to Strong’s allocation practices.

Investment Fraud Allegations lead to Criminal Convictions
A federal jury has convicted William A. Goldstein and Marc E. Bercoon of Georgia of multiple counts of mail fraud, conspiracy, securities fraud, and wire fraud for defrauding investors of more than $2.5M. Federal prosecutors say that the two men rigged the market for the stock of MedCareers Group, Inc., a publicly traded company, by inflating its share price to compel investors to buy. Then, In May 2010, in “pump-and-dump” fashion, Goldstein and Bercoon sold their stocks in MedCareers Group, Inc. by using the names of other people and entities so they’re involvement would remain hidden.

Goldstein and Bercoon also allegedly bilked investors in a private company called Acquisition, lying to them when selling them the shares. $1.5M of investors’ money, which was supposed to go toward the development of a new internet search engine, went to unrelated purposes, including to the two men and their relatives.

Ex-Investment Adviser Must Pay $3.1M in Restitution and Go to Prison
Richard Mark Schmerman, an ex-investment adviser, is sentenced to five years in prison after he plead guilty to theft and fraud. Prosecutors say that Schmerman pretended to be was certain clients so he could access their investment accounts. He then used their funds to pay for his own expenses, including a 400K civil judgment in a case against him.

Aside from serving time in prison, Schmerman now must pay $3.1M in restitution.

Investment Adviser Fraud Lawyers
At Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantas, LTD LLP, our investor fraud lawyers work with investors that have sustained losses because of an investment adviser’s wrongful, careless, or negligent actions. Over the years, our securities law firm has helped thousands of investors. Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation.

The SEC Complaint in the Strong Investment Management Case (PDF)

North Fulton Man Convicted In Investment Fraud Scheme,, February 22, 2018

Atlanta Businessmen Arrested On Market Manipulation Charges,, January 28, 2015

Ex-investment adviser gets 5 years for stealing from clients, The Seattle Times, February 14, 2018

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