Dougherty & Company Investment Losses

 

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) announced in January 2017 that it resolved a regulatory action against Dougherty & Company LLC, headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  We believe that this action exposed supervisory problems within Dougherty and may entitle investors of certain investments recovery for investment losses.  Please call 1-866-817-0201 for a free consultation with an attorney

Dougherty entered into a settlement agreement with FINRA regulators, where Dougherty did not did not admit or deny fault, but agreed to a censure, a fine of $140,000, and required to pay $78,910 in restitution to a customer.  The action stems from the allegation that for more than four years, Dougherty did not adequately supervise a securities broker who initiated hundreds of trades for elderly customers without contacting them, thus lacking appropriate authorization, and unsuitably recommended dozens of transactions to those customers. Unsuitable recommendations are investment recommendations that were of higher risk than the investor agreed to assume.

The settlement agreement contained certain findings of fact, and those findings stated that Dougherty assigned the primary responsibility for supervising broker trading activity to a supervisor who was also responsible for supervising numerous other brokers and handling his own customers’ accounts. The supervisor’s supervision of the broker in question was not subject to adequate firm oversight or specific direction. Instead, Dougherty inappropriately relied on the supervisor’s discretion and judgment, which the supervisor did not exercise appropriately.

The findings also stated that the firm did not have supervisory tools that were reasonably designed to detect financial adviser or broker misconduct.  FINRA stated that while the supervisor received daily trade blotters and certain monthly exception reports, data generated by a brokerage firm that identifies the investments recommended by a broker and warns of potentially inappropriate investment recommendations, the firm did not provide exception reports addressing short-term trading or margin usage by the financial adviser to the supervisor.

Additionally, the firm’s exception reports designed to identify inappropriate recommendations to elderly customers excluded accounts in the name of a trust, regardless of the age of the settlor or trustee.  Such shortcomings are important because the broker’s trading activity in two of the accounts at issue did not appear on those exception reports because of the existence of a trust.

The findings also included that the firm failed to respond appropriately to warning signs about the broker’s business, such as a dramatic increase in his commissions without a commensurate change in the number of accounts that he handled or the type of products that he sold. In sum, the firm’s system of supervision was not reasonably designed under the circumstances to prevent violations of securities laws and rules, including rules governing trading without customers’ approval and unsuitable recommendations.

The full AWC can be found at the following link.

Jeffrey Pederson PC is a private law firm that has helped hundreds of investors successfully recover similar losses.

 

Tobin Joseph Senefeld

FINRA  has announced that  Tobin Joseph Senefeld, formerly of PIN Financial, a Carmel, Indiana brokerage firm owned by Veros Partners, has been barred from associating with any FINRA member institution, according to its monthly disciplinary report released last week. The sanction is related to a Securities and Exchange Commission suit that claimed Senefeld and two others operated a multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme involving farm loans.

FINRAThe SEC case claimed the three raised $15 million from 80 investors in 2013 and 2014 to fund farm loans. New investor funds were used to pay older investors when the loans went bad.

Senefeld has a long history of misconduct.  The FINRA and SEC actions are just the latest of his legal problems.  The record of Senefeld contained on FINRA’s BrockerCheck indicates that Senefeld has 27 disclosure events dating back to 1997.

The prior misconduct of Senefeld, also known as “disclosure events,” include a substantial number of state regulatory actions, including the revocation of his license by Michigan in 2000 and other regulatory punishment by 16 other jurisdictions around the same time.  Senefeld also had a long history of tax liens, terminations, and civil suits initiated against him by other investors.

Co-defendants in the present SEC matter, Matthew D. Haab and Jeffrey B. Risinger, both have settled the civil suit for about $184,000 and $100,000, respectively. Senefeld and the SEC failed to reach a settlement at an in-person meeting Oct. 28, according to court filings, so Senefeld’s case remains on course for trial.

Senefeld, PIN and Risinger have all received lifetime bans from the securities industry by FINRA.

Platinum Partners

We are currently investigating losses suffered by investors in Platinum Partners.  If you have suffered losses please call 1-866-817-0201 for a free consultation with an attorney.

As reported on December 19, 2016 in the Wall Street Journal, top executives of hedge fund Platinum Partners were arrested Monday morning and will be charged with defrauding investors in one of the biggest such cases since Bernard L. Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.  The level of fraud is anticipated to approach or top $1 billion.

guy in handcuffsPlatinum previously reported more than $1 billion in assets under management.  This includes holdings scattered in eclectic investments like loans to bankrupt companies and thinly-traded pharmaceutical stocks. In form of a true Ponzi-type operation, Platinum boasted a performance track record with no down years for its funds.

The scheme targeted members of the Jewish community in New York, New Jersey, Florida and Texas.

The indictment unsealed Monday in federal court in Brooklyn charges Platinum founder and Chief Investment Officer Mark Nordlicht, co-chief investment officer David Levy, and former president Uri Landesman with counts of securities fraud, investment adviser fraud and conspiracy.

Authorities in New York said these Platinum executives and others falsely inflated the value of Platinum’s assets, allowing Platinum Partnersthe firm to collect a hefty cut of all investment gains and project a veneer of financial stability. In actuality, the firm’s investments were worth far less, and Platinum’s executives knowingly faked the performance figures, authorities said.

Charles Fackrell Fraud

If you were an investor with Charles Fackrell and believe you may be a victim of his fraud, or simply wish to know your rights, please call 1-866-817-0201 for a free consultation with an attorney.

LPLFackrell,  a former LPL adviser based in North Carolina, was sentenced by a federal court to more than five-years in prison for running a $1.4 million Ponzi scheme that operated under the name “Robin Hood.”

The former adviser pleaded guilty to one count of securities fraud in April and was sentenced last week to 63 months in jail.

From May 2012 to December 2014, Fackrell ran his Ponzi fraud, misusing funds from at least 20 investors. He was a registered broker with LPL during that time.

Fackrell “used his position of trust to solicit victim investors and steer them away from legitimate investments to purported investments with” various “Robin Hood” named entities, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office. “These were entities [Mr.] Fackrell controlled and through which he could access the victim’s funds.”

Promising guaranteed annual returns of 5% to 7%, Mr. Fackrell “solicited his victim investors by making false and fraudulent representations, including that the investors’ money would be invested in, or secured by, gold and other precious metals,” according to the U.S. attorney. In fact, Mr. Fackrell spent only a fraction of investor money on such assets, the government claims, and diverted over $700,000 back to his investors in the fashion of a Ponzi scheme.

He used the balance of the money to cover personal expenditures, including hotel expenses, groceries and medical bills, and to make purchases at various retail shops and to make large cash withdrawals.

Information for this post was found at investmentnews.com.

Ameritas Broker Theft and Other Losses

If you have suffered losses, believe funds are missing from your account, or had funds stolen while with Ameritas Investment Corp., please call the Law Offices of Jeffrey Pederson at 1-866-817-0201 for a free consultation with an attorney.

We are currently investigating losses and missing funds of Ameritas investors due to inadequate supervision of Ameritas brokers.  Ameritas recently submitted an AWC, a settlement with regulators, in which the firm was censured and fined $50,000. Without admitting or denying the findings, the firm Stock handcuffsconsented to the sanctions and to the entry of findings that it failed to adequately monitor and otherwise supervise a registered representative’s activities. The findings stated that the firm did not detect that the representative changed a customer’s address of record to the address of the representative’s branch office, and then requested disbursements from the customer’s account to the new address of record. The customer did not authorize either the address change or the disbursement of funds. As a result, the firm sent funds from the customer’s account to the branch office, where the representative misappropriated the money. The firm’s supervisory systems and procedures at the time were not sufficient to adequately monitor its representative’s requests to change the customer’s address of record without her knowledge and to disburse funds to her new address.

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.