Author Archives: Jeff Pederson

Christopher Duke Bennett Fraud Victims

If you have suffered losses with Christopher Duke Bennett of J.J.B. Hilliard, please call 1-866-817-0201.   Victims may receive a free and confidential consultation with an attorney.  Bennett is accused of participating in systemic fraud of his investors.

Bennett engaged in unauthorized trading, or churning.  This is where a broker makes trades in an account to effectuate commissions for himself without regard for the investor.  Between January 2014 and December 2015, Bennett violated federal and state securities laws by exercising discretionary trading authority in the accounts of several customers without written authorization, in violation of NASD Rule 2510(b) and FINRA Rule 2010.  This was the grounds for a regulatory action filed against Bennett by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

Between January 2014 and December 2015, Bennett made unauthorized trades in the accounts of four customers, one of whom was a senior investor, by placing approximately 75 total trades in those accounts. A broker is required to speak to an investor contemporaneously to a trade, or have written authorization that the broker has authority to make a trade at the broker’s discretion.  Bennett did not obtain express authorization from those customers for those trades prior to placing them, did not have written authorization from the customers to exercise discretionary authority in those accounts, and neither sought nor obtained from Hilliard Lyons prior written acceptance of the accounts as discretionary.

To date, at least 10 of Bennett’s former clients have filed suit, via FINRA arbitration, seeking redress.

Dennis Allen Hayes Investors

Investors of Dennis Allen Hayes, recently with Newbridge Securities Corp., should call 1-866-817-0201 for a free and confidential consultation.

In January 2019, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the self-regulatory organization policing securities brokerages and brokers, filed suit against Hayes.  That complaint stated Hayes engaged in prolonged fraud in the handling of investor accounts.  In particular, he sold investments that were not approved by his employer and that were not legitimate investments.  Such an action is commonly referred to as “selling away.”

Between March 2010 and June 2016 (the “Selling Away Period”), while he was associated with Newbridge Securities Corporation (BD No. 104065) (“Newbridge” or the “Firm”), Dennis Allen Hayes (“Hayes”) recommended that nine investors, eight of whom were Newbridge customers, invest a total of $2.7 million in five companies. Hayes did not provide any written or any other notification to Newbridge regarding his participation in these private securities transactions. The investors suffered losses of at least $2.3 million, after one of the companies filed for bankruptcy and the other companies ceased operations.

In addition, from June 2011 through June 2016, Hayes used two personal email accounts of his to communicate with four customers about their Firm accounts. Hayes also communicated via text message with one Firm customer about her Firm account between November 2015 and June 2016. The use of private email and text messaging is a common mechanism to perpetrate fraud because it is generally done with the intent of hiding the communications from an employer.

On September 16, 2016, Hayes was permitted to resign because, “first, the Firm has an open internal review regarding a customer complaint that evolved into a[n] arbitration for possible selling away and private securities transactions [and] second [Hayes] had little or no production [other than fraud] in the last 12 months”.

Upon Hayes’ recommendation and with Hayes’ assistance, nine investors purchased securities issued by five privately-held companies without Hayes’ employer’s knowledge. Eight of the investors were customers of Newbridge.

The securities Hayes sold were promissory notes issued by MSLLC and IRLLC, common stock and promissory notes of BTInc, common stock and promissory notes of KIInc (a successor of BTInc) and common stock of FXInc.

The owner of the five companies was a family friend of Hayes’.

These investments are currently lost, but investors have recourse.  The employer of Hayes, Newbridge, had a duty to oversee the transactions of Hayes and to supervise against the sale of investments that Newibridge had not researched or approved.

Adam Michael Lopez Loss Recovery

If you were an investor of Adam Michael Lopez, formerly of Country Capital Management, please call 1-866-817-0201 to discuss your options for loss recovery.

Invest photo 2Mr. Lopez has recently received a bar from the securities industry.  He refused to respond to allegations made against him by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).  These allegations included claims that he stole funds  that clients had given to him for investment, namely funds for insurance policies.

FINRA is a self-regulatory organization that polices securities brokerages under the oversight of the SEC.  This entity is charged with policing securities brokers in their interactions with investors both with their firm and away from their investment firm.

The State of Illinois is also investigating since Mr. Lopez operated out of the Springfield area.  The allegations consist of theft of funds given to Lopez for the placement in certain insurance policies and securities.

Country Capital Management had a duty to oversee the activities of Lopez.  A securities broker-dealer has obligations to oversee outside business activities of its representatives.  Consequently, civil liability may exist on the part of Country Capital to compensate the clients of Lopez.

If you have suffered such losses, Jeffrey Pederson may be able to assist you.  Jeffrey Pederson handles FINRA arbitration cases across the country and is licensed with the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois.

Pagartanis Loss Recovery

If you were a victim of Steven Pagartanis please call 1-866-817-0201.  The Law Offices of Jeffrey Pederson, PC is a firm that specializes in suits concerning securities brokers.

Pagartanis, the former Lombard and Cadaret broker from Long Island, N.Y., pleaded guilty Monday, December 10, 2018, in federal court to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud for running a Ponzi scheme over 18 years

Investors have recourse when investment professionals turn bad.

Investors have recourse when investment professionals turn bad.

Steven Pagartanis victims invested over $13 million and saw actual losses of more than $9 million,  according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

This former licensed securities broker solicited elderly victims to invest in real estate-related investments, including those affiliated with publicly traded companies and an international hotel conglomerate, according to the Department of Justice. Pagartanis promised his investors returns consistent with conservative investments-that their principal would be secure and earn a fixed return of 4.5% to 8% annually.

The victims wrote checks payable to an entity secretly controlled by Mr. Pagartanis at his direction, according to the government. He utilized a network of bank accounts to launder the stolen funds, which he used to pay personal expenses, buy luxury items and make the phony interest or dividend payments to other victims, according to the Department of Justice. He faces up to 20 years in prison.

Recovery of these losses will focus on the employers of Pagartanis.  These employers are required to have supervisory safeguards in place to prevent such actions.  FINRA, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, has rules that require licensed brokerages to take steps to monitor and detect private securities transactions away from the firm.  Consequently, liability exists even if such actions were not taking place right under the nose of the firms.  FINRA offers an arbitration forum to recover such losses.

The SEC also filed a civil suit concerning this matter in May 2018.

Jeffrey Pederson is an attorney who helps investors recover losses from brokerage firms through the FINRA arbitration process.

DAVID FAGENSON LOSS RECOVERY

Call 1-866-817-0201 to learn about potential loss recovery for investors of David Fagenson.  Mr. Fagenson was previously with Newbridge, Merrill Lynch and UBS Financial.  Initial consultations are free and most representations are done on a contingency basis.

FINRA, the regulator that oversees securities brokers, alleged that Fagenson engaged in churning and unsuitable trading in the accounts of three senior customers during the period of January 2012 and September 2016.

We believe that the problem could be more widespread.  Churning is rarely restricted to just aInvest photo 2 small percentage of a broker’s clients.  An average broker usually has over 100 investors in that broker’s book of business.

Also, Fagenson has a long history of actions that question his veracity and ability to hand the savings of others.  In addition to a felony charge in 2010, Fagenson has been the subject of eight investor lawsuits/complaints, three regulatory actions, a termination of brokerage employment for cause, and one bankruptcy.

The history of Fagenson raises questions of how he was supervised and whether he should have ever been hired by the aforementioned brokerages.  UBS has acknowledged his issues and that he Fegenson required heightened supervision.  However, even that was not enough in light of the many red flags that existed.

Jeffrey Pederson is a private attorney handling FINRA arbitration cases for investors to obtain loss recovery.

 

 

 

Blockchain Fund Loss Recovery

Investors suffering Blockchain fund losses should call 1-866-817-0201 about potential loss recovery.  Initial consultations are free and representations largely handled on a contingency basis.

During the week of November 19, 2018 Bitcoin lost one-third of its value and was down 80% of its value from its peak at the end of 2017.   This reflects the larger downturn in Crypto and Blockchain investments.

Blockchain investments were inherently speculativeinvestingstockphoto 1.  When such investments were sold by an investment professional, that professional had a duty to only sell to investors looking to speculate, and not investors needing the funds for things such as retirement or educational expenses.

We are looking to speak to investors suffering losses in a variety of Blockchain ETFs and related companies.  This includes losses in Amplify Transformational Data Sharing ETF (BLOK), Reality Shares Nasdaq NexGen Economy (BLCN), First Trust Indxx Innovative Transaction & Process ETF (KOIN), Rex BKCM ETF (BKC), and Reality Shares Nasdaq NexGen Economy China (BCNA).  Additionally, losses in Overstock (OSTK) are also being investigated.

Douglas Simanski Fraud

Investors of Douglas Simanski should call 1-866-817-0201 for a free and confidential consultation with a private attorney.

FBIFederal regulators allege that Douglas Simanski raised more than $3.9 million from approximately 27 of his brokerage customers and investment advisory clients by telling them that he would invest their money in either a “tax-free” fixed rate investment, a rental car company, or one of two coal mining companies in which Simanski claimed to have an ownership interest.

The investors were largely in the Altoona, PA area.  Most of the investors were elderly.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed a civil action in the United States District Court for Western Pennsylvania on November 2, 2018.  The complaint describes the fraudulent scheme of Simanski and seeks civil penalties and disgorgement.

As stated in the SEC  complaint, “Simanski convinced some of his most trusting and vulnerable clients, many of them retired or elderly, to invest their money while knowing the investments were not legitimate, that he would make virtually no securities investments on their behalf, and would instead use their money for personal expenses or to repay other investors.”

Simanski placed investor funds in brokerage and bank accounts that Simanski opened in his wife’s name.  He would then use the life savings of his investors for his own personal needs.

The record of Simanski shows that his employers ultimately discovered the wrongdoing after investors brought the matter to the attention of regulators.

Sean Kelly Theft

If you were an investor of Sean Kelly, previously of Center Street Securities, Capital Financial Services, and Lion’s Share Financial, please call 1-866-817-0201.  We are currently investigating his theft of investor funds.

Kelly, a Georgia stock broker, is facing criminal and SEC charges alleging that he stole at least $1 million from a dozen clients.  These clients include elderly widows and military veterans.  Kelly stole their savings and used the money for luxuries including Super Bowl tickets and vacations.

Sean Kelly, 49, of Marietta, Ga., and a stockbroker for Center Street Securities Inc., also is accused of falsely presenting himself to clients as both a brokerage firm and an investment advisor, according to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Administration.

Investors have recourse when investment professionals turn bad.

Investors have recourse when investment professionals turn bad.

The financial fraud of Kelly should have been foreseen by his employers.  The record of Kelly shows a broker with significant financial problems.  He has a history of multiple tax liens, a bankruptcy, and what is described as a “continuation of a prior bankruptcy.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia has filed criminal charges against Kelly and placed him under arrest, according to the SEC.

The SEC Complaint indicates that the fraud was fairly simple.  Kelly would have his clients make checks out to Lion’s Share.  The Complaint goes on state that Kelly used Lion’s Share as “his personal piggy bank.”

There has also been a temporary restraining order entered.  Such an order freezes the assets of Kelly.

Kelly, who has been a stockbroker for about 18 years, has been stealing money from clients since at least 2014, using recruiting techniques such as offering free tax preparation services for veterans and holding free retirement planning seminars in assisted living facilities, according to the SEC.

The theft could be well-above the $1 million currently estimated.   The number is reliant upon the documents the SEC has been able to obtain from the investigation of Kelly.  There are likely many more investors who will need to bring actions on their own to obtain recovery of their losses.

Brokerage firms have a duty to investigate and monitor outside business activities such as the activities of Kelly.  Further, FINRA requires securities brokerages to carry fidelity insurance.

Kelly’s use of Lion’s Share was well known to his employers.  Insufficient safeguard’s existed to protect the investors.

Ami Forte Investigation

If you suffered losses with Ami Forte, please call 1-866-817-0201 for a free and confidential consultation.  Jeffrey Pederson, PC handles claims against securities brokerages nationwide for unsuitable securities and unauthorized trading violations.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) announced on October 3, 2018 that it was widening the investigation of Ami Forte.  FINRA is the national regulatory agency that oversees securities brokerages.  It does so with the oversight of the SEC.

The October 3 notice advises Forte that the regulator will include additional potential violations of rules tied to conflicts of interest and fraud. Other violations included in the October 3 notice relates to rules tied to suitability, municipal securities advisory activities and books and records.

Forte, once Morgan Stanley’s most celebrated and prominent financial advisor with $2 billion in assets under management, lost her job at Morgan Stanley when an FINRA arbitration panel entered a substantial judgment against her.  The panel ordered her, her branch manager and Morgan Stanley to pay $34 million to the estate of Home Shopping Network co-founder Roy Speer in 2016. Lynnda Speer, Roy Speer’s widow, argued that the estate had been harmed by unauthorized trading, churning and elder abuse.

The initial investigation began in January 2018.  FINRA had made a preliminary determination concerning violations of multiple FINRA rules.  These rules concerning inappropriate exercises of discretion in an account and inappropriate recommendation of direct participation investments.

Forte had recently begun a career resurrection of sorts. In March 2018, Pinnacle Investments announced Forte as its chief business development officer.

This was short-lived.  BrokerCheck records indicate that the employment with Pinnacle ended Oct. 17,

Jeffrey Pederson has represented hundreds of investors over the past 15 years in FINRA arbitrations nationwide.  Time limitations may exist.  Investors suspecting wrongdoing should call at their earliest convenience