Author Archives: Jeff Pederson

Attention Investors of Daniel Maughan

If you were an investor of Danial Maughan call 1-866-817-0201 for a free and confidential consultation with an attorney concerning your rights and avenues of recovery.

Daniel G. Maughan, while associated with Financial West Group churned and excessively traded a customer’s trust account. From October 2010 through January 2015 , Maughan executed approximately 1,648 trades, with a principal value of all purchases and sales in excess of $70 million, in the account.

FINRA brought suit concerning these actions in August 2019.

The account owners were unsophisticated.  Both had a high school degree with a small amount of junior college.  The husband had been unemployed as a plumber for approximately two years.  The wife had only part-time employment as a bookkeeper.  When they inherited the funds they advised Maughan to invest conservatively.

 

The annualized cost-to-equity ratio—the percentage the account had to appreciate to break even—was 21.06. Maughan’s churning and excessive trading was quantitatively unsuitable and generated commissions and costs totaling approximately $841,000 while causing the account to incur realized and unrealized losses of approximately $812,000.

During the Relevant Period, Maughan also recommended overly aggressive and unsuitable trades in the IFT Account involving: (a) options and (b) non-traditional Exchange-Traded Funds (“ETFs”) and an Exchange Traded Note (“ETN”).

By churning the IFT Account, Maughan willfully violated the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and a multitude of FINRA Rules.

This is not the first time Maughan has been accused of fraud.  In 2015, his employer paid $550,000 to settle a suit alleging that he fraudulently sold his investors options and penny stocks.

In 2009, Wedbush Morgan was sued, via arbitration, for Maughan’s recommendation of overly aggressive ETFs and aggressive stocks to an investor.  This matter settled for the payment of $10,000.

Merrill Lynch, a previous employer, was sued in 2002 over allegations that Maughan churned the portfolio of an investor, along with making other investments in overly aggressive investments without authorization.  Merrill Lynch settled this matter for $46,000.

In 2001, an arbitration suit was filed against Merrill Lynch.  The suit alleged that Maughan made unauthorized purchases in the account of a mentally incompetent adult, and that the client could not comprehend any conversation concerning the investments in question.  This matter settled for $51,321.

Merrill Lynch terminated Maughan in 2001 for this sale.  Maughan has stated that he made “several errors” in the sale of the investment.

Michael Lee Origin Fund Fraud

If you invested with the Origin Fund through Michael Lee or others you may be a victim of fraud.  Please call 1-866-817-0201 for a free and confidential consultation with a lawyer concerning your rights.

Invest photo 2Michael Lee is a former Kestra Investment Services broker.  From December 2015 through December 2016 (the “Relevant Period”), Lee engaged in the sale of the “Origin Fund.”  Lee was an employee of Kestra during this time.  His office was located in Darien, CT.

The Origin Fund is a prospective ETF fund. Lee solicited potential investors and distributing written materials prepared by Lee’s business partner.  The written materials distributed by Lee falsely represented that the Origin Fund was an investment advisory with $20 million in assets under management, and that Kestra’s was sponsoring and providing certain administrative services to the Origin Fund.

FINRA, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, suspended Lee for one year and fined him $12,500 for his actions associated with the Origin Fun.  At the time of suspension, Lee was still in the industry as a representative of Altium Wealth Management.

The inappropriate investments were done under Kestra’s watch.  Kestra, like all brokerages, had a duty to conduct audits and take other reasonable steps to prevent the “selling away” of its brokers.

Selling away is a common form of fraud where a broker uses his status as a broker to persuade investors into purchasing investments that have not been approved by the brokerage.  These investments often pay the broker an excessive commission but the investment itself often lacks substance and is often a fraud.

Securities Fraud of Kerry Lee Hoffman

The SEC charged Kerry Lee Hoffman, former LPL advisor from Chicago, with securities fraud.  If you invested with Hoffman call 1-866-817-0201 to discuss your rights and potential for recovery.  The fraud concerned sales of GT Media in which he partnered with childhood friend and convicted thief Thomas Conwell.

Between July 2015 and July 2018, Conwell and Hoffman raised over $3.3 million from approximately 46 investors through the sale of unregistered GT Media, Inc. securities.

According to the SEC Complaint, Conwell, who was previously enjoined by the SEC and criminally convicted for stealing money from investors, made numerous false representations to investors, including that two Fortune 500 companies were seeking to acquire GT Media and that GT Media would soon conduct an initial public offering.

The prior conviction of Conwell was from January 2006, when Conwell pleaded guilty to charges of wire fraud, bank fraud and obstructing an SEC investigation and he was sentenced to 48 months in prison.  He was barred from the securities industry by the SEC in 2000.

 

The complaint filed by the SEC also alleges that Conwell, in the present matter concerning GT Media, misappropriated $161,500 from investors, which he used to pay his personal expenses. According to the complaint, Hoffman, a registered representative and investment advisory representative at LPL, solicited certain of his advisory clients to invest in GT Media securities without disclosing his financial conflicts of interest, including his compensation from GT Media and his short-term loans to GT Media that were repaid using investor funds.

The failure to disclose such conflicts is fraud, but a greater fraud is the failure to disclose the lack of due diligence investigation, along with other material financial information that Hoffman would have possessed.

The SEC action is currently pending in federal district court in Chicago.

Hoffman’s record indicates that he was a broker with LPL until September 2018.  At that time he was allowed to voluntarily resign after allegations were made against him concerning a failure to disclose certain outside business activity.  He had been a broker with LPL since February 2010.

Hoffman had previously been fired by UBS when a co-worker accused him of making securities trades without the authorization of the investor.  This fraud was public record when he was hired by LPL.

 

Jimmy Booth Investment Fraud

If you were with James “Jimmy” Booth, and question whether you are a victim of investment fraud, please call 1-866-817-0201.  Booth has previously been a broker for LPL, Invest Financial, and Cadaret, Grant & Co.  He did business for these firms under the name “Booth Financial Associates.”

In May 2019, FINRA, the regulator overseeing securities brokers, began an investigation into the Booth matter after receiving information from Booth’s former employer, LPL, following an internal investigation. During the Relevant Period, multiple customers of Booth gave him their savings totaling at least approximately $1,000,000 to invest on their behalf.

Booth, however, deposited the funds into an account he controlled and, instead of using the funds for investment purposes, used them for his own personal use. FINRA rules provides that “[n]o member or person associated with a member shall make improper use of a customer’s securities or funds” and that “[a] member, in the conduct of its business, shall observe high standards of commercial honor and just and equitable principles of trade. ”

FINRA barred Booth from ever serving as a securities broker as part of the settlement of the regulatory matter.

LPL has sent letters to some of the impacted investors to ask them if they authorized the withdrawals in their accounts.  For full recovery, investors should speak to an attorney.

Booth primarily worked in the Norwalk, CT area but it is believed that he had investors nationwide.

Booth has a history of customer disputes going back to 2004.

Paul Andrews Rinfret Victims

If you were an investor of Paul Andrews Rinfret please call 1-866-817-0201 for a free and confidential consultation with a private attorney. 

Rinfret orchestrated a years-long scheme to defraud investors.  He sold limited partnership interests in an entity purported to trade in futures relating to the S&P 500, utilizing a purported algorithm he had developed.  Rinfret touted unreasonably high returns on his trading.  In truth, Rinfret simply stole most of the investors’ money in order to fund his lavish lifestyle.  Rinfret was arrested the morning of June 28, 2019 at his home in Manhasset, New York,

Investors have recourse when investment professionals turn bad.

Investors have recourse when investment professionals turn bad.

As stated by the SEC, Paul Rinfret deceived investors at every step:  Lying about his past returns in his solicitations.  Lying about having invested all of their entrusted funds, when he was actually spending much of it on things like jewelry, cars, and a Hamptons vacation home.  After receiving the funds he lied about how their money was growing. 

Rinfret obtained more than $19 million on the false representation that he would utilize their investment funds for trading. 

Rinfret’s lies were varied and many but that does not mean that portions of investors funds cannot be recovered.   If you are a victim, please call to discuss your options.   

Recover Nina Jessee Investment Losses

Nina S. Jesse, formerly of National Capital Corp. and Cetera Advisors, has been sued over 20 times for her improper recommendation of unsuitable investments.  Her former employers are responsible for failing to supervise Jessee.  Please call 1-866-817-0201 for a free and confidential consultation with an attorney if you have suffered losses you believe were too aggressive or not appropriately investigated by Jessee or her employers.

Ms. Jesse is permanently barred from the securities industry.  FINRA, the regulatory body that oversees securities brokerage firms, investigated Jessee.  The focus of the investigation was the large number of complaints that Nina Jesse sold unsuitable investments.  The sale of unsuitable investments is a form of fraud.  A broker motivated by commission or other payment recommends investments that are overly risky or otherwise inconsistent with an investor’s objectives or tolerance for risk.  The investors then suffers losses as the result of the broker’s greed.

The bar of Nina Jessee was issued when Jessee failed to provide documents or otherwise contest the regulator’s allegations.  Her attorney acknowledged that she received the regulatory action but declined to participate.

Another subject of the investigation was undisclosed outside business activity of Jessee.  The reason that disclosure of such activity is important is that brokers will commonly use their access to investors to direct investment toward their own business or the business of a friend.  This is done despite the lack of oversight by the broker’s employer or verification that the business is worthy of anyone’s investment.

Suits concerning losses with investors such as Nina Jessee are largely handled through an arbitration process.  Investors suffering losses should speak to an attorney knowledgeable with the investment arbitration process.  Please call the number above to discuss Nina Jesse and the recovery process.

Bill Kielczewski Fraud Victims

If you invested in Mariemont Capital through Bill Kielczewski or otherwise suffered losses due to his recommendations, please call 1-866-817-0201.

Securities firms have a duty to monitor and supervise outside business activity of their brokers.  When brokers sell investments that are not approved by their brokerage, the brokerage is responsible for the resulting losses.

While associated with Huntington Investment Company (“Huntington”) Bill Kielczewski falsely and repeatedly represented to the Firm, and upon information and belief his investors, that he was merely a passive investor in a hedge fund called Mariemont Capital Partners L.P.

in fact, he was actively involved with Mariemont, promoting it to potential investors. Kielczewski participated in multiple private securities transactions through which four Firm customers invested over $10 million in Mariemont, without providing prior written notice to Huntington. Kielczewski willfully caused the Firm to make five false regulatory filings in which he described himself as a “passive investor” in Mariemont when he was not.

During the hiring process in late December 2013, Kielczewski submitted to Huntington a Pre-Registration Request Form, disclosing that he was engaged in an outside business activity with an entity called “Mariemont Capital.” In making his disclosure, Kielczewski did not provide the full name of the Mariemont entity and did not distinguish between the Fund and the investment manager.

Huntington terminated Kielczewski in April 2017.  The regulator FINRA started an investigation in April 2019 and filed a regulatory complaint in May 2019.

Attention Dean Grant Investors

If you are an investors of Dean Harrison Grant, formerly of M Holdings and NY Life, please call 1-866-817-0201 for a confidential and free consultation with an attorney.  Grant is the found and owner of GFG Strategic Advisors.

Authorities in Georgia have issued warrants for arrest for Grant.  He has been charged with the following:  1) insurance fraud; 2) forgery; 3) theft by a fiduciary; and 4) trafficking of an elder person.

Grant duped victims out of more than $1.3 million.  After arraignment, he was released on bail of $750,000 from Baldwin County Law Enforcement Center.  He currently lives in Fulton County, Georgia, but previously resided in Milledgeville, which is also the location of GFG Strategic Advisors.

About three years ago, he moved to a home in Roswell with an appraised property value of nearly $2 million, according to Fulton County records.

Investors have recourse when investment professionals turn bad.

Investors have recourse when investment professionals turn bad.

This warrant follows grants extended history of financial problems.   Grant was the subject of tax liens in October 2017, October 2018, and December 2018.  These financial issues were required to be disclosed to warn potential investors, but were not.

Regulators brought charges against Grant in February 2019.  has not contested the regulatory charges.  Failing to contest the charges, Grant ultimately agreed to a lifetime ban from the securities industry.

Georgia insurance Commissioner is urging investors with insurance products from Grant to verify the validity of their account or coverage.

 

DC Solar Ponzi – Loss Recovery

DC Solar is accused of operating a large Ponzi-type scheme concerning  a number of tax equity investment funds from 2015-2018.  The company, whose products include solar generators as well as light towers that can be used at sports events, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in February 2019 in Reno, Nevada.  This Ponzi scheme, as with most Ponzi schemes, is about a failure of investigation as much as the underlying fraud.

In a February 8, 2019 affidavit related to those bankruptcy proceedings, an FBI agent said the manner in which the Benecia, California-based company appeared to have operated reflected “evidence of a Ponzi-type investment fraud scheme.”

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission accused DC Solar’s owners by name of engaging in a Ponzi scheme, according to a separate court filing.

As late as December 20, 2018, DC Solar had been seen in the business media as an “Energy Powerhouse.”  The company was well known and sponsored a NASCAR team.  Those fortunes reversed quickly.

Sufficient investigation by advisors would have revealed insufficient lease revenue and that the funds coming in to compensate the lack of lease revenue was simply investor money.  As such, payments of profits was simply earlier investors receiving the investment funds of newer investors.  Detecting such arrangements is the charge of brokers, advisors and their firms as part of their due diligence obligations.

Civil action has been commenced against the property of DC Solar, which is considered the defendant in the case. Because it is a civil action, no criminal charges need be placed against the property’s owner, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

However, 87 defendant items are traceable to an investment fraud and money laundering scheme run by companies described in other court documents as those associated with DC Solar.

The defendant properties listed are $62,546110.43 in multiple domestic and foreign bank accounts; $1,944,091.07 in cash seized at the Carpoffs’ Martinez home and Benicia offices; an estimated $500,000 worth of jewelry and other personal items; and a $782,949 money transfer for that luxury box at the Raiders NFL football team’s future stadium in Las Vegas, Nev.

Most of the bank accounts had been opened with China Bank and Trust, which is based in Taiwan with multiple international subsidiaries, according to its website. Other accounts were opened with E-trade, J.P. Morgan, BBVA Compass and Bank of America, the attorneys wrote.

Once of the largest victims is Berkshire Hathaway.  Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc on Wednesday said a $377 million charge it incurred recently was tied to a solar generation company that U.S. authorities have linked to fraud.

 

Buckman, Buckman & Reid Loss Recovery

If you suffered investment losses with Buckman, Buckman & Reid (BBR) please call 1-866-817-0201 about potential loss recovery.  BBR has been censured and officer, Chip Buckman, suspended for a culture of insufficient supervision leading brokers to make excessive trades and recommend overly aggressive securities

From January 2013 through April 2017, BBR failed to maintain a supervisory system and enforce written supervisory procedures. In addition, BBR and Chip Buckman—who was the Firm’s designated supervisory principal responsible for conducting suitability reviews failed to reasonably supervise two former registered representatives, who the regulatory documents identify only by initials GK and RI, recommended excessive and unsuitable trades in dozens of investor accounts.

Regulatory rules require securities firms and their brokers to have a reasonable basis to believe that a recommended securities transaction or investment strategy is “suitable” for the customer, based on the information obtained through the reasonable diligence of the firm or associated person to ascertain the customer’s investment profile. A customer’s investment profile includes, but is not limited to, the customer’s age, other investments, financial situation and needs, investment objectives, investment experience, investment time horizon, liquidity needs, and risk tolerance.  Failure to do so is a “suitability” violation.

Unsuitable investment recommendations and excessive trading are forms of fraud.  Both enable a broker to make commissions that significantly above those that would be earned if the broker handled the account in a manner consistent with regulatory obligations.  Both also create unnecessary risks in the portfolios of their investors.

 

BBR was required to maintain procedures to make sure that investment recommendations were suitable BBR’s system failed to monitor its brokers in such a fashion.  No one at BBR reviewed the monthly reports and alerts that could have helped the Firm detect excessive trading and unsuitable concentration levels in customer accounts.

The supervisory failures allowed the fraud to occur.  At least one of the brokers involved had a history of misdeeds when he was first hired by BBR including many complaints for unsuitable securities sales.  Despite this history of fraud, BBR failed to supervise this broker.  Not surprisingly, the broker continued to commit fraud in the accounts of his investors.

We assist investors who lose value in their portfolio when brokers commit misdeeds and brokerages fail to supervise.  Please call for a free and confidential consultation.