Author Archives: Jeff Pederson

Attention Investors of John Maccoll

John C. Maccoll, who was a registered representative of UBS Financial Services and an investment advisor, is charged both criminally and civilly with defrauding at least 15 of his brokerage clients, most of them elderly and retired, in a scheme that lasted for at least a decade.  If you were an investor with Maccoll please call 1-866-817-0201 for a free and confidential consultation.  Representation will be on a contingency fee basis.

Maccoll’s career goes back 40 years.  Prior to being with UBS he spent years working as a brokerguy in handcuffs for Morgan Stanley.  We believe that he used his scheme not only at UBS but also at Morgan Stanley.

According to the SEC, he used high-pressure sales tactics to convince his brokerage customers to invest in what he described as a “highly sought after” private fund investment. The victims were convinced to sell their retirement accounts or borrow against them and make out checks to Maccoll.

The actions of Macoll are commonly referred to as “selling away.”  This is common.  A broker will either try to sell an investment of a confidant who will pay him a premium, or sometimes make up the investment completely.  Brokerage firms are required to have mechanisms in place to detect and stop such trading practices.

One customer’ defrauded invested her life savings and money from her deceased husband’s life insurance payout, which she intended to use to pay for college expenses for her three children, adding that Maccoll knew that the funds invested in his customers’ accounts were for retirement or college expenses.

Attention Investors of Chris Hibbard

A former Merrill Lynch advisor, Chris Hibbard, of the Louisville, Ky., area, fired after Merrill concluded he had allegedly stolen money from clients, is facing more allegations of theft.  Call 1-866-817-0201 for a free consultation if you were a client of Mr. Hibbard.  Representations are handled on a contingency basis.

The record of Hibbard shows that his former employers are currently defending eight lawsuits concerning Hibbard misappropriation of funds.  These suits are all in the FINRA arbitration process.

Stock handcuffsMerrill Lynch fired Hibbard in February following an internal investigation which also found he had made unauthorized transactions, according to the publication. FINRA has barred Hibbard.

Since then, more accusations have been lobbed against the former Merrill Lynch representative, including in March, April and May.

And last month, a lawyer on behalf of a client accused Hibbard of alleged theft, misappropriation of funds, misrepresentation and making unsuitable recommendations, according to Finra, Louisville Business First writes.

The former broker had been with Merrill Lynch since July 2010, and one of the complaints alleges misappropriation of funds in 2009 and 2010, when Hibbard had been with Morgan Keegan & Co., which is now part of Raymond James, Louisville Business First writes.  Hibbard first started in the securities industry at A.G. Edwards in 1999.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Kentucky is also investigating Hibbard, according to Finra documents cited by Louisville Business First, although the publication’s search of court records didn’t find any charges filed thus far.

Charles Bloom of Chelsea Financial

Please call 1-866-817-0201 if you were an investor with Charles Bloom of Chelsea Financial.  Bloom operated primarily in the West Palm and Royal Palm areas of Florida, but likely has investors nationwide.  We have reason to believe that Bloom engaged in a pattern of inappropriate behavior in the portfolios of his investors.

In October 2017, FINRA, the regulator that oversees securities brokers, commenced an investigation into allegations that Bloom engaged in an unsuitable pattern of trading in at least three customer accounts.

All securities brokers are required to know their investors and only recommend investments Invest photo 2that are consistent, or suitable, with the investors risk tolerance and investment objectives, among other things.  Brokers have many incentives to recommend investments that are too risky or otherwise unsuitable for investors.  This motivation can lead to large losses by an investor.  As such, the recommendation of unsuitable investments is considered to be a form of fraud.

In connection with the FINRA investigation, on June 21, 2018, FINRA sent a request to Bloom for on-the-record testimony. Brokers are required to cooperate with FINRA investigations into misconduct.  As stated in a phone call with FINRA staff on July 3, 2018, Bloom acknowledges that he received FINRA’s request and would not cooperate.

Ultimately, Bloom surrendered his license and accepted a bar from the securities industry as a result of the allegation.  However, this allegation is just the latest in a long list of allegations.  The record  of Bloom shows prior regulatory actions, a 20-day suspension, and two customer suits.  This raises the question of why Bloom was hired and why he was not given appropriate supervision in light of his history.

We represent investors in securities industry arbitration proceedings across the country.  Please call for a free and confidential consultation.

 

Recovery of CLO Losses

CLO (Collateralized Loan Obligation) investors may have recovery avenues for their losses.  These complex investments are only suitable for the most sophisticated investors willing to assume the high risk of these investments.  Investors who are less sophisticated or who seek only investments or looking for only moderate risk investments cannot legally be sold these investments.  For a consultation, please call 1-866-817-0201.

The financial industry is governed by rules concerning whether certain investments can be sold to investors.  One such limitation is that securities broker, financial advisors and investment advisors may only sell investments that are suitable, or investments that are consistent with an investors level of sophistication, investment objectives and tolerance for risk.  Complex investments that carry a high risk potential are unsuitable for your average investor looking for growth or income with a tolerance for moderate risk.

investingstockphoto 1As identified by FINRA, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, a CLO is very complex and risky investment.   A CLO is a security made up of loans to corporations that usually have relatively lower credit ratings. Leveraged buyouts, in which a private equity firm typically borrows money to purchase a controlling stake in a company, are a common for CLO loans. After the loans are made, they’re sold off to a manager, who bundles them together and then manages the consolidations, buying and selling loans as he or she sees fit.

A CLO manager raises money to buy the loans by selling debt and equity stakes to outside investors in slices of the total collection according to risk level.

FINRA gives an example to demonstrate how tranches work.  Think of everyone who owns a piece of the loan pool as standing in a long line. Those at the front of the line would get repaid first if any of the loans in the pool go into default, but they receive lower interest payments than those at the back of the line. The people further back are paid more for taking a greater risk that they would not be repaid in the event of losses in the underlying loan pool.

Typically, a CLO includes both debt tranches and equity tranches. The debt tranches are similar to bonds – they have credit ratings and offer regular coupon payments for a period of several years. Interest rates may be set or “floating,” meaning they vary with prevailing interest rates.

Debt tranches have first dibs on payments from the underlying loans, though here again, there are important differences within the group. Senior tranches have a higher-priority claim to payments (and receive lower interest payments) than junior tranches (which receive higher interest payments).

Equity tranches are the riskiest piece of the CLO puzzle. They have no credit ratings, are last in line for payment, and thus are the first to suffer losses if the underlying loan portfolio falters. Though equity tranche investors are simply paid whatever cash is left over after the debt investors have received their interest payments, they typically earn a higher return than debt tranche investors do.

FINRA is not alone.  The Wall Street Journal has also identified these investments as risky and complex.  The Journal points out that the race to provide higher returns has led to an even greater sales of such investments, and that such investments hit a record in 2017.

Unless you are a very sophisticated investor willing to speculate the money invested in CLOs, you should seek legal representation for losses sustained.

Attention Investors of Mark Solomon

If you were one of the investors of Mark Solomon please call 1-866-817-0201 for a free and confidential consultation.   We believe that Mr. Solomon, whose office is in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, inappropriately sold real estate investments and that his employer, M Holdings, inappropriately supervised Solomon and allowed the sales to occur.

Invest photo 2From December 16, 2014 through December 29, 2014, on behalf of a commercial real estate limited partnership, Solomon solicited and sold limited partnership interests (the “offering”) to seven investors for a total of $1,400,000.  However, before soliciting and selling interests in the offering on behalf of the commercial real estate limited partnership, Solomon did not provide to M Holdings the notice required. Solomon first provided written notice of his sales activity to M Holdings on August 31, 2015 after responding to inquiries made by a regulator during an examination of M Holdings.

The financial industry regulator, FINRA, brought an action against Solomon for the sales of the investments.  Solomon entered into a settlement where he agreed to a one year suspension from the securities industry.

M Holdings ultimately is responsible for the sale of the investments.  Brokerage firms are responsible for the supervision of the private securities sales of their brokers even when the sales are away from the firm.  FINRA brought action for the inadequate supervision of Solomon by M Holdings.    M Holdings was censured and agreed to pay a $135,000 fine.

 

Attention Kenny Kim, IFG Investors

If you were an investor of Kyusun “Kenny” Kim of IFG, please call 1-866-817-0201 to speak to an attorney about your rights for recovery.  Most cases are handled on a contingency basis, where the attorney does not receive fees unless there is a recovery.

Mr. Kim has been accused by regulators  of systematically committing securities violations in the accounts of senior investors for the time period of 2006 through 2015.  He is accused of both of recommending unreasonably risky, or unsuitable investments, to senior investors, and of falsifying the documents of the investors to allow him to convey to his supervisors that the recommendations were suitable.

Invest photo 2As a broker, Mr. Kim’s actions are governed by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).  FINRA has a suitability rule that requires that a broker have a reasonable basis for believing that a recommended transaction or investment strategy is suitable for the customer based on the customer’s investment profile, which includes, among other factors,
the customer’s age, financial situation and needs, investment experience, and risk
tolerance.

Kim was selling alternative investments to seniors.  Alternative investments are investment other than stocks, bonds and mutual funds.  They include REITs that do not trade on a stock exchange and structured notes.  Though structured notes may look like bonds or mutual funds, such investments contain a derivative component that make the investment extremely risky and speculative in nature.  An investor may need to speak to an attorney just to confirm an investment is actually a structured note.  Such recommendations were improper for investors with conservative or moderate risk tolerances.

Adding to the risk, Kim improperly recommended that many of the investors unreasonably concentrate their portfolios in these alternative investments.  This only increased the level of speculation in the portfolio.

This is only the latest chapter in a long history of regulatory actions and customer lawsuits.  FINRA has indentified 23 investor lawsuits, either filed or threatened, concerning Kim.

While Mr. Kim has been expelled from the securities industry, this does little to compensate investors who have lost their life savings.  Jeffrey Pederson has represented investors across the country in similar suits in front of FINRA.  Please call for a free and confidential consultation.

 

MVP REIT Loss Recovery

If you lost money in MVP REIT I, MVP REIT II or Parking REIT, please call 1-866-817-0201 to speak to a lawyer about potential loss recovery.  Most cases are handled on a contingency basis, where the attorney does not receive fees unless there is a recovery.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) is investigating whether MVP American Securities violated federal securities laws or the authority’s rules when it raised money from investors from 2012 to 2017.  This was disclosed in a corporate filing filing with the Securitites and Exchange Commission concerning Parking REIT, the subsequent entity of MVP REIT I and II.

Michael Shustek, through MVP American, raised approximately $180 million from sales of MVP I and II.  Though the exact nature of the investigation is still unknown, the most likely violation would be the sale of the investments with an undisclosed conflict of interest.The investigation does not only concern MVP American, but also Shustek.

investingstockphoto 1Other reports critical of Shustek and MVP state the two engaged in behavior that was abusive to investors.  This was done by having the REIT buy and sell the same six properties repeatedly, with little to know economic motivation to do so.  More details concerning this investigation can be found in the Las Vegas Review Journal.

These highly aggressive investment may also be unsuitable for investors seeking only moderate risk or retirement income.  The sale of such an unsuitable investment is a securities violation and may entitle an investor to recovery of losses.

This is not the first time Shustek has been in trouble with securities regulators.  In 1999, Nevada regulators investigated him for potential securities violations in running Del Mar Mortgage.  He has also been previously investigated by the SEC for his dealings with Vestin real estate for utilizing misleading information in sales presentations.

Jeffrey Pederson represents investors around the country in arbitrations in front of FINRA.  Please call for a free initial consultation.

Steve Knuttila investor recovery

If you were an investor with Steve Knuttila please call 1-866-817-0201 to discuss your options for investment loss recovery.  Jeffrey Pederson represents investors nationwide in issues of investment mismanagement and investment fraud.

Mr. Knuttila has recently lost his securities license and has come under the scrutiny of Minnesota securities regulators after a long history of defrauding investors and mismanaging the life savings of people.  FINRA, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, discloses the number of “disclosure events” a broker receives.  Such events include regulatory investigations, investor lawsuits and written investor complaints concerning a broker.  Four such disclosure events require a brokerage to give a broker heightened supervision or terminate a broker.  In the case of Mr. Knutilla, he has over 20 such disclosure events.

Knuttila has previously worked with a Questar and Capital Financial Services.  Both these firms have potential liability for the actions of Knuttila.  The history of disclosure events made the hiring and continued employment of Knuttia questionable.

Invest photo 2The beginning of the end for Knuttila was in 2017.  In November 2017, FINRA, the regulator overseeing stockbrokers nationwide, began an investigation into allegations that Knuttila made unsuitable recommendations to customers. The sale of unsuitable investors is a form of negligence and can be a form of fraud.  On May 10, 2018, FINRA staff sent a request to Knuttila for on-the-record testimony pursuant to FINRA Rule 8210. As stated in his phone call with FINRA staff on May 21, 2018, and by this agreement, Knuttila acknowledges that he received FINRA’s request and will not appear for on-the-record testimony at any time.  FINRA barred Knuttila from the securities industry.

On April 2, 2018, the Minnesota Department of Commerce issued a Consent Order permanently barring Knuttila from engaging in the sale or offering of securities and any related securities activity in the State of Minnesota, revoking his insurance producer’s license, and fining Knuttila $40,000, of which $30,000 was stayed, based upon findings that Knuttila made misrepresentations and omissions of fact, breached his fiduciary duties, and made unsuitable recommendations in connection with the sale of securities.

 

Tags:  Knutilla, Knutttila, CFS, Minnesota, Minot, North Dakota, Perham.

 

 

Christopher Wendel Investors

If you are an investor suffering losses with Christopher Wendel, please 1-866-817-0201 for a free consultation.  Mr. Wendel has been implicated in the improper sale of Woodbridge  notes and other securities violations.  Jeffrey Pederson has represented investors nationwide in cases concerning Woodbridge and other similar securities actions.

Wendel solicited investors to purchase promissory notes in Woodbridge Mortgage Investment Funds, a purported real-estate investment fund.  Wendel did not provide notice to SA Stone Wealth Management, his employer, prior to participating in these private securities transactions, nor did he obtain approval from SA Stone.  Despite the lack of notice, SA Stone had a duty to investigate and approve securities sales to prevent its representatives from “selling away.”

Invest photo 2Investment firms are liable for not following FINRA’s strict guidelines concerning the monitoring of representatives to ensure the representatives do not sell unapproved investments, such as Woodbridge.  Common knowledge within the securities industry is the fact that representatives often seeks to sell investments that are unapproved for either the higher commissions or illegal kickbacks that the investments provide.  The problem is that the increased compensation is because the investments either are financially unsound or, in some cases, based upon fraud.

Additionally, there were glaring issues  in these Woodbridge investments for an extended period of time.    These issues should have been discovered during reasonable due diligence by the brokers and agents selling the Woodbridge investments.  These investments should have been recognized as not being suitable for any investor.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission SEC had been investigating Woodbridge since 2016.  Woodbridge, the Sherman Oaks, California-based Woodbridge, which calls itself a leading developer of high-end real estate, had been under the microscope of state regulators even longer.   The focus of these regulators was the possible fraudulent sale of securities.

In 2018, FINRA found that Wendel violated FINRA Rules by providing a false written response and testimony concerning one of the private securities transactions.

This is not the first time Mr. Wendel has been accused of handling the funds of others improperly.  The record of Mr. Wendel shows the six private lawsuits have been initiated concerning his actions.  He has also previously been investigated by SA Stone for the sale of unapproved securities, a common form of fraud.  He was also terminated for the sale of securities that were unapproved by SA Stone.   We believe those securities were Woodbridge securities.  SA Stone apparently allowed several months to elapse before taking action concerning the sale of Woodbridge.

Eric Sampson Loss Recovery

We are actively pursuing actions to recover losses incurred by victims of Eric Sampson.  Victims are primarily investors of Sampson’s My Investment Advisor (“My IA”).  If you are a victim, please call 1-866-817-0201 for a free and confidential initial consultation.

Sampson operated at different times out of St. George, UT, Washington, UT, Greenwood Village, CO and Colorado Springs, CO.  Investments sold by Sampson that are considered fraudulent include Golden Assets, LLC, Shooks Run, LLC, The Hills at Santa Clara, and Wright Indoor Comfort.

At all relevant times, Sampson was a licensed securities broker, working first for Girard Stock handcuffsSecurties and subsequently World Choice Securities.  The practice of Sampson was a hybrid brokerage investment advisory practice that he controlled and that was made aware to his employers.  In such a situation, the investment advisory is required by pay the brokerage for supervision.  The brokerage, in turn, is charged with ensuring that the advisory is not selling investments fraudulently.

Federal criminal charges are currently pending against Sampson.  There is also currently a case against Sampson and My IA by Utah regulators.

As stated in the Federal criminal action, “It was the object of [Sampson's] scheme and artifice to defraud for defendant Sampson to fraudulently obtain money from his MY IA clients through false statements, misrepresentations, deception, fraudulent conduct, and omissions of material facts, and thereafter cause the money to be diverted for defendant SAMPSON’s personal use and benefit.”