Tag Archives: Investment Fraud

Attention Mediatrix Investors

The SEC on September 18, 2019 announced that it has filed an emergency action in federal court in Denver, Colorado and obtained an asset freeze against three individuals in connection with an alleged fraudulent, ongoing international trading program, Mediatrix Capital, that has placed at risk more than $125 million of investor funds.  Allegations include that Mediatrix, despite assertions that it has not lost investor money in five years, has been operating a Ponzi scam and inducing investors fraudulently.

Mediatrix is an investment manager and trading advisor.  It is not a hedge fund, but a manager of outside funds, and purports that its operations as being conducted in the Bahamas.

An action has been brought by the SEC in Colorado.  Colorado has jurisdiction over Mediatrix due to owner and CEO Michael Young’s home in the Denver, Colorado area.  Despite the fact that Mediatrix operates out of the Bahamas, American investors may have the opportunity to pursue losses in the federal or state court in Colorado.

According to the SEC’s complaint, beginning in March 2016, Mediatrix Capital Inc. and its three owners, Michael S. Young, Michael S. Stewart, and Bryant E. Sewall, induced investors to invest by falsely representing that their money would be invested using a highly profitable algorithmic trading strategy that had never experienced an unprofitable month and had returned more than 1,600 percent since inception. In truth, the complaint alleges, the defendants’ trading strategy consistently lost money-losing more than $18 million from its trading in 2018 alone. In addition to repeatedly misrepresenting the profitability of the trading, the complaint alleges defendants also misled investors by falsifying account statements and making Ponzi-like payments, all while misappropriating more than $35 million of investor money for defendants’ personal use, including to purchase luxury properties and vehicles.

The SEC’s complaint, filed in federal district court in Colorado on September 12, 2019 and unsealed today, charges all defendants with violating the antifraud provisions of Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 thereunder, and Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933, as well as with violating the registration provisions of Section 5(a) and 5(c) of the Securities Act.

The SEC’s complaint also charges Mediatrix Capital, Young, Stewart, and Sewall with violations of the antifraud provisions of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. The SEC has also charged 20 relief defendants who allegedly received profits from the fraud.

The SEC’s continuing investigation is being conducted by Jeffrey D. Felder and Tracy W. Bowen of the SEC’s Denver Regional Office and supervised by Kimberly L. Frederick and Jason J. Burt. The litigation is being led by Stephen C. McKenna and Mark D. Williams and supervised by Gregory A. Kasper. The SEC appreciates the assistance of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the U.S. Marshals Service. The SEC also appreciates the assistance of the UK Financial Conduct Authority, the Czech National Bank, the New Zealand Financial Markets Authority, the Securities Commission of The Bahamas, the Central Bank of Armenia, and the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority.

Jeffrey Pederson is a licensed Colorado attorney.  If you have questions about Mediatrix or the ability to pursue recovery of losses in Colorado, please call 1-866-817-0201.

James Davis Trent

Investors suffering losses with James Davis Trent may be entitled to recovery from his brokerage employers, AXA, Proequities and Allstate.  Please call 1-866-817-0201 for a free consultation with a private attorney.

investingstockphoto 1Trent entered into a regulatory settlement with FINRA in which Trent was suspended from
association with any FINRA member in all capacities for six months. In light of Trent’s
financial status, no monetary sanction has been imposed. Without admitting or denying
the allegations, Trent consented to the sanction and to the entry of findings that he
engaged in a pattern of recommending unsuitable short-term trading of Class A mutual
fund shares to customers, resulting in the customers (all of whom were retired) incurring
approximately $6,362.50 in unnecessary sales charges, while Trent received approximately
$2,910 as his commission from the sales loads.

Short-term trading of mutual funds is a form of churning, an action where there is very little benefit to the investor but significant commissions to the broker.  Such actions are in violation of FINRA rules and the anti-fraud provisions of state and federal securities laws.

The regulatory findings stated that Trent recommended all of the transactions that were executed in the customers’ accounts at the firm, including short-term trading involving Class A front-end-loaded mutual funds. In the transactions at issue, Trent recommended the purchase of Class A mutual fund shares and, within less than a year, recommended the sale of the positions, resulting in an average holding period for the customers’ accounts of six months. Given the long-term nature of investments in Class A mutual fund shares and the customers’ investment profiles, Trent lacked a reasonable basis to believe that the recommended securities transactions were suitable for the customers.

 

Losses with Larry Charles Wolfe

Jeffrey Pederson PC assists investors in recovering losses such as those incurred as the result of the misdeeds of brokers, such as the alleged misdeeds of Larry Charles Wolfe.  Currently with Stoever, Glass & Co., Wolfe was previously with Aegis Capital Corp., and Herbert J. Sims & Co. Those suffering losses with this broker are likely entitled to recovery from either Wolfe or his employer.  Call 1-866-817-0201 for a free and confidential consultation.

Invest photo 2FINRA has announced that it has entered into a settlement with Larry Charles Wolfe for making unauthorized transactions in his clients’ accounts.  The allegations are that between November 10, 2015 and November 16,2015, Wolfe inappropriately exercised discretion in the accounts of 39 investors without obtaining prior written authorization from the customers or written approval of the accounts as discretionary from his employing member firm, in violation of numerous state and federal securities laws.

A securities broker must obtain authorization from an investor prior to making a securities transaction in the investor’s account unless that broker has written authorization to make such a trade.

Additionally, MSRB Rule G-17 and FINRA rules require that each broker or dealer in municipal securities to deal fairly with customers and prohibits registered representatives from engaging “in any deceptive, dishonest, or unfair practice.”

The trades are believed to involve municipal bonds and other securities.

In addition to this regulatory action, Wolfe has been sued by investors at least ten (10) times, primarily for allegations of unauthorized, excessive, or unsuitable trades.  Additionally, at least two (2) other investors have threatened suit.  Despite Mr. Wolfe being accused of wide-scale fraud he has not yet lost his license and is still working in the securities industry.

 

Geraldine Gordon Investment Loss

The Law Offices of Jeffrey Pederson, PC represents investors suffering losses as the result of adviser mismanagement, such as the investment losses of investors of Geraldine Gordon of Ameriprise.  Ms. Gordon has been accused by FINRA regulators of inappropriately recommending oil and gas investments.  Concentrating such unorthodox investments in an investor’s portfolio can be unsuitable, which is mismanagement of a portfolio and in some cases fraudulent.  Please call 1-866-817-0201 for a free and confidential consultation.

The regulatory filing highlights the plight of one such investor.  On June 2013, Gordon recommended to one of her investors that she liquidate a number of
diversified investments in her Ameriprise brokerage and IRA accounts, which
comprised approximately half (49.9%) of her liquid net worth. Ms. Gordon recommended that
this investor use those assets to purchase a Master Limited Partnership (“MLP”) focused
on the energy-sector. This investment is believed to be an investment in oil and gas.  The MLP’s prospectus described the investment as speculative.

Following Gordon’s recommendation, the investor invested a total of $334,000.00 in the
MLP investment through her Ameriprise brokerage and IRA accounts. The investor’s investment in the MLP comprised a large portion of the investor’s liquid net worth at the time.

blog_gulf_mexico_oil_rigFINRA Rule 2111, the FINRA suitability rule, provides that when recommending the purchase, sale, or exchange of any security to an investor, a securities broker “must have a
reasonable basis to believe that a recommended transaction [...] is suitable for the
customer, based on the information obtained through the reasonable diligence of
the member or associated person to ascertain the customer’ s investment profile.”

Gordon’ s recommendation that her investor invest half of her liquid net worth in this
single sector-focused, in this case an oil and gas, MLP was not suitable for the investor in light of the investor’s financial condition and the excessively concentrated nature of the investment.

Many state regulators have rule the suitability requirement even more restrictively.  Some have limited the investment in such an investment to 10% of the investor’s liquid net worth.

One of the concerns with MLP investments is that many pay an extremely high commission to the broker, which is usually not disclosed.  This can cause some brokers to recommend MLPs despite the inherent risks in the investment to those who cannot afford to take such risks.