Category Archives: Uncategorized

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

John Simoncic Investment Fraud

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) barred John Scott Simoncic from the securities industry.  Mr. Simoncic had most recently been a broker for Financial West Group.  Please call 1-866-817-0201 for a free consultation if you were an investor of Mr. Simoncic.

There are multiple allegations concerning multiple investors against Mr. Simoncic.  They include the unauthorized and excessive trading in client accounts.  Allegations also include the sale of unsuitable investments.  This is the sale investments to an investor that are inconsistent with the risk an investor was willing to assume.

Between August 2014 and March 2016, Simoncic executed 54 of the 97 trades in a single customer account in inverse and/or leveraged Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs), an investment vehicle somewhat similar to a mutual fund.  The investor did not have an understanding of the ETFs Simoncic traded in her account; she did not understand how inverse and leveraged ETFs worked, the risks associated with the extended time Simoncic held the ETF positions in her account, or that her account was concentrated in one particular volatility ETF, the ProShares Ultra VIX Short-Term Futures ETF (UVXY), for over nine months.

Such ETFs are especially dangerous.  Although leveraged and/or inverse ETFs seek daily investment results, Simoncic held the ETF positions in the investor’s account for multiple trading sessions. For example, Simoncic executed 37 transactions in shares of the ProShares UltraShort S&P 500 (SDS), an inverse double-leveraged ETF, with holding periods generally ranging from four to 97 days. These transactions in the SDS resulted in an overall loss of more than $15,000. Simoncic also concentrated 93 percent of the investor’s portfolio in shares of UVWY, the ProShares Ultra VIX Short-Term Futures—a risky, double-leveraged and speculative ETF—for 295 days, that resulted in losses that exceeded $20,000. Thus, approximately $35,000 of the investor’s total losses of approximately $60,000 related to ETF trading.

Mr. Simoncic has previous regulatory actions and customer complaints that should have alerted his employer.  We believe that the former employers of Mr. Simoncic are responsible for investors losses.

 

Losses from Vanguard Website Freeze

If you suffered losses from the inability to access the Vanguard website on October 10, 2018, please call 1-866-817-0201.  Initial consultation with a private attorney is free.

On October 10, 2018, the Dow Jones industrial average lost more than 800 points, over 3%, in the course of the trading day.  Certain Vanguard investors were unable to take action to protect themselves.  This is because the website access that so many Vanguard investors rely upon to protect their savings malfunctioned.  The investors were left helpless to watch the dramatic decline with the inability to take action.

In statements from Vanguard, a “network connectivity issue” denying clients to access Vanguard “via the web or phone.”

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Investors unable to access markets via Vanguard as brokerage lets down investors for second time this year.

Website access issues started at 6 am Eastern on Wednesday, October 10, 2018, and were “intermittent and periodic.” Vanguard says it is “working as quickly as we can to restore full access and will provide updates as they become available,” and it apologized for the inconvenience.  However the apologies do not compensate those relying on the site and Vanguard’s competence in managing the site.

This is not the first time this has happened to Vanguard.  In fact, it is not the first time this year that the brokerage failed to properly maintain connectivity with its clients.  On February 4, 2018,  the Dow suffered a similar drop.  Investors lost the ability to protect themselves, in addition to missing on buying opportunities.

The notice to Vanguard from the earlier incident should have put it on notice of the problems with its system.  While other brokerages were able to make sufficient changes, Vanguard was not.

Andrew Todd Yocum Loss Recovery

Investors of Andrew Todd Yocum may be entitled to recovery of their losses.  Mr. Yocum is a former broker of Morgan Stanley and Summit Brokerage.  He has entered into regulatory settlements with both the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) and Florida regulators.   If you have suffered investment losses as a result of investing with Yocum please call 1-866-817-0201 for a free and confidential consultation with a private attorney.

In 2015, FINRA, the national regulatory agency that oversees securities brokers and brokerages, commenced an investigation into Yocum.  It alleged the he effected unauthorized securities transactions, exercised discretion over portfolios without written authorization, and recommended unsuitable concentrated purchases of energy sector securities to senior investors.

Unsuitable investments are investments that are either too risky or otherwise do not fit the investor’s profile.  Such investments generally enrich the broker at the expense of the investor.

Yocum did not contest the charge by FINRA. Ultimately, FINRA barred him from practicing as a securities broker.

On May 4, 2017, Yocum was found by Florida regulators to have committed similar offenses.  Those offenses being the failure to get appropriate authorization from his clients and the recommendation of unsuitable securities.  Yocum neither admitted, nor did he deny, the findings.

Yocum entered the securities industry in September 2002 when he became associated with a FINRA member firm.  All securities brokerage firms in the United States must be members of FINRA.  FINRA is a self-regulatory organization that the Securities and Exchange Commission has empowered to oversee securities brokerages.

The former employers of Yocum have been sued over 30 times for their failure to supervise the portfolios of investors and ensure protection from the securities violations described above.

Yocum first became registered with FINRA through that firm on November 28,2002. YocumNYSE pic 1 remained registered with FINRA through an association with two member firms between 2002 and 2009.  Neither of these firm from that time period were identified in the FINRA investigation.

On June 1, 2009, Yocum became a broker with Morgan Stanley. On October 6, 2015, Morgan Stanley filed a Uniform Termination Notice for Securities Industry Registration. The reason for Yocum’s termination from Morgan Stanley was listed as “[a]llegations concerning acting on verbal discretion.”

Subsequent to his termination with Morgan Stanley, Yocum became affiliated with Summit.  On March 3, 2016, that firm filed a Form with FINRA noticing the regulator that it was terminating Yocum’s association as of March 1, 2016. Since March 1, 2016, Yocum did not re-associate with another FINRA member firm.

Please call the number above to speak to an attorney who handles investment disputes against brokerages such as Morgan Stanley and brokers such as Yocum.

Rhino Capital Loss Recovery

Please call 1-866-817-0201 if you invested in either Rhino Capital, Global Credit Recovery, Delmarva Capital, DeVille Asset Management, or Riverwalk Financial.  We are currently investigating potential recovery avenues for investors.   Initial consultations are free.  Representations are done on a contingency basis.

The Securities and Exchange Commission said Wednesday that it has filed a complaint and obtained a court order concerning the aforementioned financial entities, halting an ongoing “Ponzi-like” scheme that raised more than $345 million from over 230 investors.

From at least 2013 to present, operators of Rhino and the other Defendants operated this Ponzi-like scheme that involved, among other things, securities offerings rife with misrepresentations, fake debt, forged signatures, fabricated wire transfers, the movement of millions of dollars into personal accounts, and an elaborate scheme wherein Defendants offered and sold investments in the same (and often fictitious) debt and/or debt portfolios, to multiple victims

The SEC alleges that Kevin B. Merrill, Jay B. Ledford and Cameron Jezierski attracted investors to their scheme by promising significant profits from the purchase and resale of consumer debt portfolios.  Merrill, 53, is from Towson, Maryland; Ledford, 54, lives in Westlake, Texas and Las Vegas; and Jezierski, 28, lives in Fort Worth, Texas.

Of the $345 million raised, more than $90 million was invested by over 200 individual investors; approximately $52 million by family offices; and nearly $203 million by feeder funds, largely made up of groups of individuals.

Many of these investments came in by the way of “feeder” funds.  The operators of these funds had duties to conduct adequate due diligence to verify the veracity of the representations of the investment offer.  Investment professionals have duties to their investors.  Among these are an obligation that an investment is suitable for any investor.