Levi David Lindemann Ponzi Victims

Stock handcuffsAs reported in Investmentnews.com, Levi David Lindemann, a Minnesota-based investment adviser has received a six-plus-year prison sentence for stealing from clients and perpetuating a Ponzi scheme.

The 40-year-old adviser, Lindemann, was sentenced to 74 months in prison by a Minnesota federal court, after having pled guilty earlier this year to federal mail fraud and money-laundering charges.

Mr. Lindemann owned and operated Gershwin Financial Inc., which did business under the name Alternative Wealth Solutions, between 2009 and 2014.

“Lindemann abused his position of trust as a financial adviser to steal from his clients, including the elderly ” Mike Rothman, Minnesota’s commerce commissioner, said. “Lindemann defrauded his victims by promising to put their money in legitimate, safe investments when he actually used the funds to pay for personal expenses and Ponzi-type payments to other clients to cover up and continue his fraud.”

According to Mr. Lindemann’s guilty plea, he solicited funds from roughly 50 investors and said he would “use the invested funds to buy secured notes or other legitimate investment vehicles.”

If you are a victim of Lindemann or some other Ponzi scheme, please call 1-866-817-0201 to speak to a private attorney on a free and confidential basis to discuss your rights in private litigation.

Losses in L-share variable annuities

If you have suffered losses in variable annuities sold to you by Voya or Cetera subsidiaries such as Cetera Advisors, Cetera Financial Specialists, First Allied, Kestra Investment Services, FTB Advisors, Summit Brokerage and VSR, or if you were sold a variable annuity L-share, you may be entitled to recovery of your losses.  Please call 1-866-817-0201 to speak to an attorney for a free consultation.

L-share variable annuity is a complex investment product that combines insurance and securities that are designed for only short-term investors willing to pay higher fees for shorter surrender periods – periods where a surrender fee must be paid to sell.   If you were sold such an investment product, please call the number above to speak to a private attorney for a free consultation.

Though variable annuities already pay a heightened commission to the broker selling or recommending, these shares increased the commissions to an even higher level.  Such high commissions can blind an adviser to the unsuitability of such investments.

FINRA fined the eight firms a total of $6.2 million and ordered five of them them to pay another $6.3 million in restitution for failing to supervise the sales of variable annuities and L-shares.  Restitution is to repay the investors.  However, this will likely not reimburse investors for all losses.  Depending on the facts of each investor, a private action may significantly supplement investor recovery.

FINRAFINRA imposed sanctions against Voya Financial Advisors, five broker-dealer subsidiaries of Cetera Financial Group, Kestra Investment Services and FTB Advisors Inc., according to its action notice. The firms entered into the settlement without admitting nor denying the charges.

FINRA ordered Voya to pay its customers at least $1.8 million, while Cetera Financial Group’s subsidiaries, Cetera Advisors, First Allied, Summit Brokerage and VSR will collectively pay customers at least $4.5 million.

“We are pleased that this matter has been resolved,” said a Voya spokesperson. “At Voya, we are committed to providing clear and comprehensive information to our clients – including details on fees, expenses and costs associated with their investments. We support transparency and candid disclosures and continually seek to enhance our policies and procedures on an on-going basis to better serve our customers.”  The Cetera entities made similar statements.

The variable annuities under scrutiny were L-share annuities that are considered “potentially incompatible, complex and expensive long-term minimum-income and withdrawal riders.” Finra stated that L-share annuities could “pay greater compensation to the firms and registered representatives than more traditional share classes.”

According to the notice, firms should have picked up on the “red flags” that this product could be potentially unsuitable for the customer.

“When a firm cannot explain why a significant number of clients are paying up for the short-term flexibility of L-shares while at the same time buying riders that only have value over the long term, it is clear that these supervisory obligations are not being met,” said Brad Bennett, Finra executive vice president and chief of enforcement.

Information from this article from both Investmentnews.com and FINRA.org.

Paul Lebel of LPL

Paul Lebel, a broker formerly registered with LPL Financial, was barred on Tuesday, October 18, 2016, by the Securities and Exchange Commission for churning and excessively trading mutual funds in customer accounts and generating excess fees.  If you suffered losses with Mr. Lebel please call 1-866-817-0201 to speak to an attorney and receive a free consultation.

Mutual funds carry large loads which can be costly to investors if trading in and out of the funds.  These same loads can lead to substantial fees for a broker.  Brokers can defraud investors with only a few mutual fund trades.

Invest photo 2Lebel, who was with LPL broker from 2008 to 2014, “during his employment with LPL, [Lebel] defrauded four customers by churning several of their accounts,” according to the SEC which entered into a settlement with Mr. Lebel. “In particular, Lebel exercised de facto control over these customers’ accounts and excessively traded mutual fund shares which carry large front-end load fees.”

Mr. Lebel bought and sold mutual fund A shares, which are meant to be long-term, buy-and-hold investments, generating $50,000 in commissions, according to the SEC. Mr. Lebel will pay $56,500 as part of the settlement.

The SEC stated, “Lebel’s excessive trading was inconsistent with the customers’ investmentLPL objectives, and willfully disregarded the customers’ interest,”

We suspect that there are other investors who who have suffered loss as the result of fraud by Mr. Lebel.  We have help many investors recover their losses due to such action.  The amounts that we are seeking are separate and possibly in addition to the recovery by the SEC.

Steepener Note Losses, Investors Capital

FINRAInvestors Capital Corp., a Cetera subsidiary, agreed to pay $1.1 million to settle Finra charges that it recommended unsuitable short-term trades in complex products to clients including steepener notes.  For more information, call 1-866-817-0201.

Financial advisers are required to sell only suitable investments to their investors.  A suitable investment is not only one that is consistent with the objectives and risk tolerance of an investor, but is also investments that are not so complex that the investor cannot appreciate the risk.

Finra’s complaint against Investors Capital revolved around recommendations for unsuitable investment trusts and steepener notes in the accounts of 74 clients.

Two Investors Capital representatives recommended short-term unit investment trust transactions with upfront sales charges ranging from 250 to 350 basis points in the customers’ accounts, according to a Finra letter of acceptance released on Monday.

Finra also charged that Investors Capital lacked adequate supervisory policies.  Brokerage firms are required to have supervisory procedures to ensure the sale of only suitable investments.  However, at Investors Capital the representatives’ behavior as to the recommendation of only suitable investments went unchecked from June 2010 to September 2015.

The clients involved in unsuitable UIT trading lost more than $240,000, according to Finra.

Finra notes that one 58-year-old client with a long-term growth account objective purchased and sold nearly 65 of the unit investment trusts, almost all of which had two-year maturity dates, in a 2.5 year period with an average holding period of three months. On at least 58 occasions, proceeds of the sale of one unit investment trust in this client’s account were used to purchase another, resulting in a loss of $50,728 in that client’s account.

Between April 2011 and December 2012, FINRA alleges that Investors Capital representatives also recommended short-term trades of “steepener” notes, which are long-term bets on the shape of the yield curve, in an unsuitable manner. The recommendations led to 63 customers suffering about $126,000 in losses.

Details of this settlement were described in the October 6, 2016 edition of Financial Adviser Magazine.

UBS Investor Loss Recovery

UBSIf you are an investor with UBS suffering losses in investments made between 2011 and 2014 you may be entitled to a recovery.  Please call 1-866-817-0201 for a free consultation.

As reported by Rueters, UBS Group AG has agreed to pay more than $15 million to settle U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charges that its failure to properly train brokers led to customers buying hundreds of millions of dollars of unsuitable securities.

The SEC said on Wednesday that UBS from 2011 to 2014 sold about $548 million of “reverse convertible notes,” derivatives tied to individual stocks, to more than 8,700 retail customers who were relatively inexperienced and unsophisticated.

These notes, with mouthfuls of names as Trigger Phoenix Autocall Optimization Securities and Airbag Yield Optimization Securities, were sold to people of modest means, often with low risk tolerances, and included some retirees, the SEC said.

“UBS dropped the ball,” SEC enforcement chief Andrew Ceresney said in a statement.

Gregg Rosenberg, a UBS spokesman, in a statement said the Swiss bank was pleased to settle. It did not admit wrongdoing.

UBS’s payout includes a $6 million civil fine, $8.23 million of improper gains and about $798,000 of interest.

The case is part of a years-long crackdown by the SEC, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and other regulators to stop banks and brokerages from selling products that retail and even professional customers may not want, need or understand.

According to the SEC, UBS’s notes were designed to offer attractive yields with a lessened risk of loss.

But Ceresney said on a conference call that UBS’s training focused on describing the “potential upside” from the various products, not their volatility.

Recovery of ARCP Losses

If you have suffered losses in ARCP, please call 1-866-817-0201 to speak to an attorney about potential recovery of your losses.

guy in handcuffsThe Department of Justice and the Securities Exchange Commission on September 8, 2016 charged the former chief financial officer of American Realty Capital Properties Inc., (“ARCP”) a large traded REIT now known as Vereit Inc., with overstating the financial performance of the company by purposefully inflating a key metric used by analysts and investors to assess ARCP.

According to the SEC’s complaint, ARCP’s former CFO, Brian S. Block and then chief accounting officer Lisa McAlister devised a scheme to manipulate the calculation of the REIT’s adjusted funds from operations, or AFFO, a non-GAAP measure used when the company provided earnings guidance.

Block was arrested Thursday morning on conspiracy, securities fraud, and other charges at his home in Hatfield, Pa., according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.

McAlister pled guilty on June 29, 2016 to one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and other offenses, including one count of securities fraud, one count of making false filings with the SEC, and one count of making false statements in a matter within the jurisdiction of the executive branch of the U.S. government. The securities fraud and false filings charges each carry a maximum prison term of 20 years. The conspiracy and false statements charges each carry a maximum prison term of five years.

Jeffrey Pederson, PC represents investors in the recovery of investment losses through fraud and mismanagement.  Most cases resolve by means of FIRNA arbitration.

Information for this post obtained from Investmentnews.com.

Shamrock Asset Management

If you were invested in F-Squared or AlphaSector while with Shamrock Asset Management, please call Pederson Law for a free consultation.  The toll-free number is 1-866-817-0201.

Shamrock Asset Management is a Dallas, Texas investment adviser.  Advertisements made by Shamrock and its advisers inappropriately inflated the investment returns of certain investments.  As a result, Shamrock received a cease and desist order from the SEC.  The relevant parts of the order are as follows:

“From July 2011 through October 1, 2013, in reliance on F-Squared’s false statements, Shamrock’s AlphaSector advertisements falsely stated that: (a) assets had been invested in the AlphaSector strategy from April 2001 to September 2008; and (b) the track record had significantly outperformed the S&P 500 Index from April 2001 to September 2008.

“In fact, no client assets had tracked the strategy from April 2001 through September 2008. In addition, F-Squared miscalculated the historical performance of AlphaSector from April 2001 to September 2008 by incorrectly implementing signals in advance of when such signals actually could have occurred. Shamrock took insufficient steps to confirm the accuracy of F-Squared’s historical data and other information contained in the materials. In addition, Shamrock did not obtain sufficient documentation that substantiated F-Squared’s advertising claims in the materials.

“As a result of this inaccurate compilation of historical data by F-Squared, Shamrock advertised the AlphaSector strategy by using hypothetical and back-tested historical performance that was inflated substantially over what performance would have been if FSquared had applied the signals accurately. 4. As a result,

“Shamrock violated Section 206(4) of the Advisers Act and Rule 206(4)-1(a)(5) thereunder by publishing, circulating, and distributing advertisements that contained untrue statements of material fact. Shamrock likewise did not make and keep true, accurate and current records or documents necessary to form the basis for or demonstrate the calculation of the performance or rate of returns that it circulated and distributed, as required by Section 204(a) of the Advisers Act and Rule 204-2(a)(16) thereunder.”

Brian Candler and Ari Financial

Please call 1-866-817-0201 to speak to a lawyer if you suffered losses with Brian Candler or Ari Financial.  Ari Financial of Overland Park, Kansas and Candler of Leawood, Kansas have recently resolved regulatory actions against them concerning failures in the review and supervision of the investments sold.  Some of these investments were ultimately revealed to be Ponzi schemes, such as the investments in Bridgeport Oaks.  The regulatory settlement can be found at the following link.

Invest photo 2In summary, Ari Financial submitted an Offer of Settlement in which the firm was censured, fined $7,500 and, for a period of one year, must file with FINRA’s Advertising Regulation department all retail communications that the firm intends to permit its registered representatives to use or distribute at least 10 business days prior to use.  Candler was censured, fined $2,500, suspended from association with any FINRA member in any capacity for 10 business days, and suspended from association with any FINRA member in any principal capacity for 10 business days, to be served after the completion of the suspension in any capacity.

Without admitting or denying the allegations, the firm and Candler consented to the sanctions and to the entry of findings that Candler failed to conduct reasonable due diligence regarding a private placement that the firm sold directly to retail investors. The findings stated that as a result, the firm lacked a reasonable basis to believe that the private placement was suitable for any investor. The offering was later discovered to be a Ponzi scheme, and customers who purchased interests lost their collective investment principal of approximately $560,000.

The findings also stated that as a result of deficiencies in its supervisory system, the firm failed to identify and prevent the dissemination of misleading and imbalanced advertising and sales materials by registered brokers, and failed to ensure that the offering materials prepared and distributed contained sufficient and accurate disclosures. The findings also included that the firm failed to document the written approval of the advertising and sales material it used, and the first and last dates of use. FINRA found that Candler provided medallion signature guarantees for numerous pre-signed securities assignment forms without having the forms signed in his presence or otherwise verifying their authenticity Moreover, despite providing signature guarantees for numerous securities transfers, ARI and Candler had not previously established any supervisory system or written procedures for the firm’s medallion signature guarantee program.

Candler did not establish a supervisory system for the firm’s medallion signature guarantee program. Following the receipt of a complaint that Candler improperly provided signature guarantees in connection with certain securities transfers, he established deficient written supervisory procedures (WSPs) governing the firm’s activities as a guarantor. FINRA also found that the firm and Candler failed to retain and review certain securities business-related communications to and from its registered representatives, and failed to establish appropriate escrow accounts for contingent offerings. The firm’s WSPs did not include appropriate provisions to ensure that its standards regarding communications with the public were implemented and followed, and Candler did not enforce the WSPs that required it to preserve all business email. In addition, FINRA found that although the firm had WSPs that generally addressed the supervision of its private placement activities, they were often insufficiently tailored to the nature of its business and amounted to a supervisory system that was not reasonably designed to achieve compliance with the applicable laws and regulations.

David B. Tysk of Ameriprise Investment Loss

If you suffered investment loss with David B. Tysk please call 1-866-817-0201 for a free consultation.

David Tysk, financial advisor for Ameriprise in Eden Prairie, MN, was fined $50,000 and
suspended from association with any FINRA member in any capacity for one year. The
Invest photo 2NAC affirmed the findings in the OHO decision and increased the sanctions. The sanctions
were based on findings that Tysk altered computer notes of customer contacts after the
customer complained about the suitability of a recommendation.

The findings stated that Tysk knew or should have known the importance of customer-related notes in the event of complaints. Tysk’s concealed alterations of his notes did not comply with the clear import of the document-retention policies in his member firm’s code of conduct. Tysk failed toinform the firm of the alterations when he provided a copy of the notes to be produced in discovery during an arbitration proceeding.

The customer became suspicious of the notes and requested further discovery to determine whether the notes had been altered after he lodged his complaint with the firm. Tysk and his firm opposed the requests. In a meeting to prepare for the arbitration hearing, Tysk finally disclosed to the firm that he had altered the notes. At the conclusion of the arbitration hearing, the firm and Tysk were sanctioned for violating arbitration discovery rules.

A copy of the NAC decision can be found at the following link.

Kenneth J. Daley of Merrill Lynch Improper Conduct

Kenneth James Daley with Merrill Lynch in Glenwood Landing, NY entered into a settlement agreement with FINRA in August 2016.  Pursuant to the terms of this agreement, he was barred from association with any FINRA member, which is any brokerage firm, in any capacity. Without
admitting or denying the findings, Daley consented to the sanction and to the entry of
findings that he concealed his improper receipt of funds from a customer.  The funds were paid
in connection with purported profits in an account of his member firm. The findings stated
that the customer contacted Daley about providing him with money to allow him to benefit
by sharing in the profits in her account with Daley’s firm. The customer wrote Daley a check
for $2,500 drawn from her cash management account with the firm. Daley immediately
contacted the customer because he was concerned that his firm would learn of the deposit,
which he knew to be prohibited. In order to avoid detection by the firm, Daley instead
provided the customer with his personal banking account details for an account he held at another financial institution and informed her that she could directly deposit funds related
to purported profits in her account with the firm to his personal checking account. As a
result, the customer deposited to Daley’s personal bank account eight additional checks,
each of which was drawn off of her non-firm bank account. In total, the customer gave
Daley $29,000 in connection with purported profits in her account, all of which Daley used
for personal expenses. Throughout this time period, Daley knew he was prohibited from
accepting such payments.

The findings also stated that Daley used his personal cell phone to text message customers.
Daley was prohibited from text messaging with customers unless done through an
approved firm platform. The findings also included that Daley submitted an annual firm
attestation falsely attesting that in the prior 12 months he had not used text messaging
with any customer. As a result, Daley prevented the firm from discharging its supervisory
responsibilities with respect to the review of his electronic communications and caused the
firm to fail to maintain such communications as required under FINRA and Securities and
Exchange Commission (SEC) rules.

FINRA found that Daley recommended that the customer purchase units of a non-traditional, leveraged crude oil exchange-traded fund (ETF) without having a reasonable basis to do so. On Daley’s recommendation, the customer purchased 5,000 units for a principal amount of $41,850. Daley did not liquidate the position until after the customer had experienced losses.

The AWC can be found at the following link.