Articles Posted in Investment Advisers

Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin has filed charges against investment adviser Thomas Riquier for allegedly defrauding investors of at least $1M in a real estate scam that has gone on for more than a quarter of a century. According to the administrative complaint, Riquier solicited funds from people, mostly older investors (some of them his firm’s clients), to buy property that was then to be sold at a profit. His employer, United Planners Financial Services of America, is charged with failure to supervise.

In its investment adviser fraud case, the regulator claims that investors’ money was used instead to buy property already belonging to Riquier. The property has yet to be improved or sold. It has not rendered any returns for investors. The state regulator notes that because the alleged scam has been going on for so long—26 years—a number of investors have passed away. The rest of them have yet to make money from the venture.

Riquier is also accused of soliciting over $830K in private loans from clients. Galvin said that this violates federal and state laws.

Continue reading

Ex-Wells Fargo Brokers Barred Over Unsuitable Energy Securities Sales
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority has barred brokers Charles Lynch and Charles Frieda for making unsuitable recommendations to investors, resulting in substantial financial losses to the latter. Lynch and Frieda are former Wells Fargo (WFC) representatives who were based in Southern California. Both Lynch and Frida were fired from the firm. Previous to working at Wells Fargo, both men worked at Citigroup (C) and Morgan Stanley (MS).

According to the self-regulatory organization, between 11/12 and 10/15, the former brokers recommended an investment strategy revolving around certain speculative energy stocks to over 50 customers. These securities were volatile. Because investors became very concentrated in these energy securities, they were placed at risk of substantial losses.

FINRA contends that the two brokers did not do a proper job of making sure these investments were suitable for the customers to whom they were recommending these securities.

Continue reading

The SEC has filed civil charges against Westport Capital Markets LLC and principal Christopher E. McClure. The Connecticut-based, dually registered brokerage firm and investment adviser and its principal are accused of defrauding clients, costing them over $1M in losses.

According to the regulator’s securities fraud complaint, the investment advisory firm and McClure invested clients’ money in risky securities on numerous occasions, resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars in undisclosed mark-ups that went to Westport even as the clients lost more than $1M. The broker-dealer would allegedly buy securities from underwriters at a reduced rate and later re-sell them to its own clients at the full public offering price while keeping the difference.

Westport and McClure are accused of making false and misleading representations to clients about the compensation that the financial firm received from their accounts. Also, the brokerage firm is accused of receiving 12b-1 fees, which are mutual fund distribution fees, when clients’ money was placed in certain mutual fund share classes and again not telling clients about these fees. The SEC said that the fees created a conflict. McClure and Westport allegedly invested clients in mutual fund shares that charged these fees even when less expensive shares that didn’t carry the fees could have been purchased instead.

Continue reading

James C. Tao, an ex-financial adviser, has settled civil charges accusing him of bilking investors in a private equity fund. It was the US Securities and Exchange Commission that brought the Texas investment fraud charges against him.

Among the allegations was that Tao misappropriated investor money and made material misstatements in offering documents for the Presidio Venture Capital fund. Donna Boyd, Tao’s ex-partner, also settled SEC charges in this case.

The regulator’s complaint contends that the two of them set up the fund four years ago to invest in Houston-based technology startups. They raised about $860K.

Continue reading

Regulator Orders Alleged Ponzi Scammers to Pay $15.7M Plus Interest
In its final judgement against ex-pro football player William D. Allen, Susan Daub, and three entities, the US Securities and Exchange Commission is ordering the defendants to pay over $15.7M in disgorgement of ill-gotten gains in addition to prejudgment interest for an alleged Ponzi scam that raised nearly $32M from investors. Allen, formerly of the Miami Dolphins, and Daub, who both pled guilty to related to criminal charges last year, have been sentenced to six years in prison. They must pay $16.8M in restitution for that action. The SEC’s order will be deemed met “based on the restitution order” in the criminal case.

The SEC’s complaint contends that Daub and Allen and the entities misled investors about the loans, which were supposed to go to professional athletes. Instead, they allegedly used just part of the money to issue the loans while using investors’ funds to cover nightclub and casino expenses, other ventures, and to pay back other investors.

Microcap Issuer and Its Ex-CEO Resolve Investor Fraud Allegations
Integrated Freight Corporation and its ex-chairman/CEO David N. Fuselier have settled SEC charges accusing them of investor fraud. Both Fuselier and the company, however, did not deny or admit to the allegations.

Continue reading

Texas Investment Adviser Suspend for Violating Earlier Securities Agreement
The Texas State Securities Board has suspended investment adviser John Michael McDonough for 90 days after he violated a past agreement that limited his business activities and required 212 Advisory Group to enhance its supervision of him. The undertaking agreement was a requirement for him to be approved as a registered investment adviser in Texas in 2015 while he worked with the Georgia-based firm.

At the time, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority had already sanctioned McDonough, who used to be registered with AXA Advisors, LLC, over allegations that he engaged in “outside business activities” and a number of undisclosed private securities transactions. He was fined $10K and suspended by the self-regulatory organization.

Earlier this year, the Texas State Securities Board found that McDonough was in total violation of the undertaking agreement. Meantime, 212 Advisory was found to have failed in making sure that McDonough did not engage in any supervisory-like acts nor did it ensure that a firm principal was appointed as his direct supervisor.

Continue reading

The US Securities and Exchange Commission has filed civil charges against a former broker and investment adviser. According to the regulator’s investment adviser fraud complaint, Jay Costa Kelter defrauded three retirees of over $1.856M. Meantime, prosecutors in Tennessee have filed a criminal case against him related to one of the clients. A federal grand jury indicted him on multiple counts of wire fraud, mail fraud, and security fraud.

The SEC contends that from 9/2013 through last year, Kelter, who owns insurance and investment firm BEK Consulting Partners LLC (known in the past as Kelter & Company LLC), made misrepresentations to the older investors, whom he’d persuaded in 2013 to transfer their accounts to TD Ameritrade (AMTD) after he left his former employer. The former broker had access to their new accounts and was authorized to keep giving them investment advice and make trades on their behalf while, meantime, he allegedly used the funds for himself.

For example, Kelter is accused of misappropriating $1.467M from a 75-year-old widow who was nearly totally financial dependent on her investments by engaging in fraud and forgery. The SEC’s complaint said that the client had told him she was only interested in making conservative investments.

Continue reading

Lawrence Allen DeShetler will serve 60 months in federal prison for Texas investor fraud. The Houston man pleaded guilty to mail fraud earlier this year after he fraudulently solicited $1.9M from five clients.

Starting in 2014, the former investment advisor, certified planner, and head of DeShetler & Company started persuading clients that if they let him invest their funds they would make higher returns. These clients took money from their investment accounts and gave them to him. Unfortunately, DeShetler used the money on himself.

He has since admitted to using some of investors’ funds to build a house abroad. DeShetler also admitted that he persuaded one widow who was an octogenarian to liquidate a trust and transfer nearly $190K to him. He even stayed in her home while she went away. Upon her return DeShetler was gone and so were her investment documents.

Continue reading

Wedbush Securities Accused of Failing to Oversee Owner, Who May Have Cherry Picked Investments
The NYSE Regulation has filed a disciplinary case against Wedbush Securities Inc. accusing the firm of not properly overseeing the trading activities of firm owner and principal Edward Wedbush. According to the complaint, Mr. Wedbush, “actively” managed and traded in over 70 accounts and he had limited power over attorney over the accounts of relatives, friends, and some staff members. NYSE contends that he was never properly overseen, which increased the possibility of conflicts and manipulation, including cherry picking. For example, the regulator believes that the inadequate supervision of Mr. Wedbush gave him the “unchecked ability” to give the best trades to family members and himself because there was no system in place to make sure trades were fairly allocated.

Wedbush Securities has previously been subject to at least $4.1M over supervisory deficiencies. Last year, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority ordered Mr. Wedbush to pay $50K for supervisory deficiencies involving regulatory filings. He also was suspended for 31 days from serving as a principal.

Wedbush Securities has been named in investor fraud complaints over the handling of their money.

Continue reading

Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts William Galvin has filed civil fraud charges against Moser Capital Management and investment adviser Nicklaus J. Moser. Galvin’s office is accusing Moser and his firm of fraud involving two venture capital funds: the Moser Capital Fund, LLC and the Moser Capital Fund II, LLC.

The state regulator claims that the respondents engaged in fraudulent conduct and breached their fiduciary duties. The breaches alleged include making misrepresentations and omissions to investors and prospective investors by providing misleading information, not getting “valid investor signatures” when receiving more capital contributions, and charging a performance fee to the non-qualified account of an advisory client.

According to Galvin’s office, Moser set up the funds to raise cash for start-up companies. The investment adviser was allegedly a sales representative at a company that sold products to startup ventures, but he did not tell investors that he had financial reasons for making sure that the start-ups in operation.

Continue reading

Contact Information