Articles Posted in Investment Advisers

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The US Securities and Exchange Commission has filed charges against investment adviser Tarek D. Bahgat for allegedly stealing $378K from clients. Bahgat is accused of misappropriating funds from seven investment advisory clients, most of whom were elderly investors.

According to the regulator, from December 2014 through September 2016, Bahgat, using the alias Terry Dean Bahgat, misappropriated the clients’ funds online and transferred the money to his own account and that of WealthCFO, which was the payroll and accounting company that he controlled. FINRA’s BrokerCheck database shows that Bahgat was working for two brokerage firms: Cambridge Investment Research and Gradient Securities. After exiting Gradient, he was a state-registered advisor and used the name WealthCFO Partners.

The SEC’s complaint claims that Bahgat would sometimes obtain the internet bill-paying privileges in some client accounts by pretending to be the client or having his assistant, Lauramarie Colangelo, pose as the client during phone calls with the brokerage firms that held the accounts. Colangelo was the operations manager of WealthCFO.

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Brian R. Callahan, a former investment fund manager, has been ordered to serve 12 years in prison and three years of supervised release for his role in a $96M Ponzi scam. He also must pay $67.6M in restitution. Callahan pleaded guilty to wire fraud and securities fraud in 2014.

Between 12/2006 and 2/2012, Callahan raised over $118M from at least 40 investors related to four investment funds he oversaw. He told investors that their money would be placed in different securities, such as hedge funds and mutual funds. What happened instead was that the former investment manager misappropriated about $96M in a Ponzi scam.

Callahan is accused of diverting millions of dollars toward an unprofitable beachfront residence and resort development named Panoramic View that he co-owned with his brother-in-law, Adam Manson. The latter is a co-defendant in the Ponzi fraud.

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SEC Charges SunTrust With Collecting Over $1.1M in Excess Mutual Fund Fees

The US Securities and Exchange Commission has filed charges accusing SunTrust Investment Services of collecting over $1.1M in unwarranted fees from mutual fund clients. The SunTrust Banks subsidiary will pay an over $1.1M penalty to resolve the regulator’s civil charges.

According to the regulator’s order, SunTrust Investment Services improperly recommended costlier mutual fund share classes to clients when less expensive shares of these funds were available. The SEC says this was a breach of the investment services firm’s fiduciary duty to take actions in the client’s best interests.

NJ Investment Adviser Accused of Stealing Over $1M from Clients
The US Securities and Exchange Commission has brought investment adviser fraud charges against Scott Newsholme, a New Jersey-based financial adviser and tax preparer, accusing him of stealing over $1M from clients so he could support his lifestyle and support his gambling. According to the regulator, Newsholme generated fake account statements and “doctored stock certificates and forged promissory notes.”

Prosecutors have filed a parallel criminal case against him. Rather than invest clients’ funds in different securities as promised, Newsholme allegedly went to a check-cashing store to cash their checks and then kept their money for himself to cover his own expenses and gambling activities, as well as make Ponzi-like payments to the clients who wanted their money back.

Radio Host Accused of Stealing Millions of Dollars in Concert Ticket Scheme
Craig Carton, a sports radio host, is accused of running a concert ticket scam to bilk investors. According to the SEC’s complaint, he and Joseph Meli, another man whom the regulator had already filed charges against earlier this year, touted blocks of face value tickets to concert performances that were in demand and promised investors high returns that would come from ticket resales and their accompanying price markups.

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Daryl Gene Bank, who is the owner of dozens of Virginia liability companies, and Raeann Gibson have been arrested in an alleged investment fraud that prosecutors believe cost investors almost $20M. They are charged with mail fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit both, taking part in illegal monetary transactions, and running a number of investment scams between 2012 through July 2017.

WTVR reports that among the allegations against Bank is that he caused a number of material misrepresentations and omissions to be presented to a number of investors, including a blind elderly investor who gave Bank $20K of his retirement money. Bank allegedly placed most of the funds in Prime Spectrum, which is purportedly an investment scam.

If convicted, Bank could be ordered to serve up to 260 years behind bars. Gibson could be sentenced to up to 240 years.

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Aaron J. Johnson, a former registered investment adviser who ran Capital Advisors until state regulators took back his firm’s registration in 2013, is sentenced to five years behind bars for financial fraud. Johnson, 37, claimed that he stole over $600K from clients because he suffered a mental health breakdown.

According to prosecutors, Johnson took money from middle-class clients’ retirement accounts and charged them excessive fees to the point that he’d practically drained their funds. After Capital Advisors lost its registration, Johnson became affiliated with Trade PMR, a Florida-based firm that offers custody and brokerage services for investment advisers that are registered. Prosecutors contend that even then Johnson kept stealing from clients despite the fact that he was now under investigation. Prosecutors said that after Trade PMR began to question the fees that Johnson charged clients, including $3200 in client fees for an account that only held $13K in assets, the ex-adviser generated fraudulent documents as proof that his actions were warranted. He drained the account of the client, who was a single mom with three kids, until there was only $5 left.

Johnson has been ordered to pay back everyone that he defrauded.

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