Tag Archives: arbitration

SEC: L Bond Inappropriate for Investors

The SEC, the Securities and Exchange Commission, states that broker sales of the GWG L Bond are inappropriate for most investors in a recently filed complaint. Regulation Best Interest (BI) and/or the FINRA suitability rule require that financial advisors recommend this high-risk investment only to the most seasoned investors. Both rules also require that the advisor not make overly aggressive recommendations. Likewise, both prohibit recommendations based upon the advisor’s self interests. If your financial advisor recommended GWG L Bond you may be entitled to recovery of your losses. Please call 303-300-5022.

In the Complaint file June 15, 2022, the SEC identifies the L Bonds are inappropriate for the average investor. The Complaint states, “L Bonds were corporate bonds offered […] were high risk, illiquid, and only suitable for customers with substantial financial resources.”

The SEC states that the sale of L Bonds violated federal securities laws in many instances. “These recommendations violated Regulation Best Interest in several ways. Regulation Best Interest requires that a [financial advisor] act in the best interest of a retail customer when making a recommendation of a securities transaction (“Reg BI’s Best Interest Obligation”).”

Western International Securities is the focus of the current SEC investigation. The brokerage, however, is just one of many brokerages across the country that sold the GWG L Bond.

Federal regulations prohibit sales to investors who are not retired and looking to speculate. Regulation BI, under the SEC’s analysis, greatly limits who an advisor can recommend the L Bonds.

The SEC reiterates this in the Complaint. Advisors cannot recommend L Bonds to investors with “moderate-conservative or moderate risk tolerances, investment objectives that did not include speculation, limited investment experience, limited liquid net worth, and/or they were retired.”

Financial Advisors knew that the L Bond were inappropriate. The relatively large commissions offered for the sale of the L Bonds made many financial advisors sell the L Bonds anyway.

Regulations require advisors understand the risks of the L Bond. Regulation BI requires the performing of due diligence to understand the risks of an investment. Advisors stating that they did not know of the risk have no excuse.

We represent numerous individuals concerning the GWG L Bonds. Please call for and free and confidential consultation.

Investigation into Everbridge Losses

In December 2021, Everbridge (EVBG) lost approximately half of its value. This highly speculative investment is only for investors willing to take the highest level of risk. If you are not such an investor, and recommended this investment by your advisor, please call 1-303-300-5022.

We are currently investigating the circumstances surrounding the fall of EVBG. While the popular refrain is that the losses were unexpected due to the abrupt resignation of CEO David Meredith, we believe that issues with this investment were known prior to the resignation.

The volatility of Everbridge was known to be a speculative option for investment. This company built assets faster than its revenue growth. Some external analysts even saw extreme financial distress in the finances of EVBG to the extent that they opined imminent bankruptcy.

Additionally, we believe that the internal research of the broker-dealers originally recommending Everbridge will reveal problems at EVBG. The advisors never revealed and disregarded these issues until the abrupt resignation of Meredith.

As such, we are looking to speak to investors to investigate our suspicions. We are currently only looking at brokerage firms recommending this investment to moderate or conservative investors. If you were recommended EVBG please contact us at the number above.

For the last 20 years, the Law Offices of Jeffrey Pederson represents investors nationwide. Initial consultation is free, and all consultations are confidential.

Gregory Walter McCloskey (Meier)

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) alleges that between 2008 and 2018, Respondent Gregory Walter McCloskey, also known as Gregory Meier, is alleged to have defrauded at least one and possibly more elderly investor.  If you believe you have a claim call 303-300-5022.

While associated with FINRA member firms, including Westpark Capital and Newport Coast Securities, McCloskey participated in two undisclosed private securities transactions (“PSTs”) involving an elderly, retired widow, and then sought to conceal these transactions from his member firms and FINRA.  There are very few legitimate reasons for not disclosing such transactions and create a strong inference of fraud.

McCloskey has been alleged to have committed such actions in the past.  He previously consented to the sanctions and to the entry of findings that he participated in a series of private securities transactions without providing written notice to or receiving approval from his member firm to engage in such activity. The findings stated that specifically, McCloskey, without his firm’s approval, personally invested $50,000 in a lighting and energy networking company and introduced two of his customers to the company, and they invested a total of $50,000.   For this he received a 15-day suspension and his firms were required to give him heightened supervision.  

In October 2019, McCloskey was permitted to resign from Westpark Capital.  This was in response to allegations that he failed to abide by the heightened supervision placed upon him.

If you were sold investments suffering substantial losses or that are illiquid call 1-866-817-0201 for a free and confidential consultation.

Future Income Payments (FIP)

Numerous securities brokers around the country have been selling Future Income Payments (FIP) to investors.  This is a fraudulent investment.  Investment firms have the duty to supervise their representatives to prevent the sale of such unapproved and fraudulent investments.  Call 303-300-5022 for a free and confidential consultation.

Kari M. Bracy, formerly of NY Life, recently lost her securities license rather than cooperate in an investigation into her sale of unapproved investments in future income payment streams.   These investments are alleged to be part of an elaborate Ponzi scheme.  Our firm represents individuals in such suits and other Ponzi-type frauds.

On December 30, 2019, in connection with an investigation by the regulator FINRA, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, of Bracy’s sale of a Future Income Payments, LLC’s (“FIP”) structured cash flow investment comprised of pension streams, FINRA staff sent a request to Bracy directing her to appear for on-the-record testimony on January 16, 2020 pursuant to FINRA Rules. On December 31, 2019, Bracy acknowledged during a telephone call with FINRA staff that she received request letter and did not intend to appear for testimony.

There are very few reasons for a broker to sell unapproved securities other than for his own personal gain.  Unapproved securities puts an investor at great risk because there is insufficient research to verify the financials of the company or determine whether the investment is even legitimate.  Firms have a duty to monitor its brokers to confirm that the brokers are not selling unapproved investments.

Another broker selling inappropriate FIP is David Todd Phillips formerly of Moloney Securities and ProEquities.  Between May 2017 and April 2018, Phillips solicited eight investors to purchase $876,636 in FIP.   Respondent received a total of $33,184 in commissions in connection with his sales of FIP securities.  FINRA gave Phillips a nine month suspension.

FINRA is the regulator that is charged by the Securities and Exchange Commission with the oversight of all securities brokers in the United States.  The failure to cooperate led FINRA to bar Bracy from the securities industry.

FIP diverted new investor funds flowing into the business to fund payments to earlier investors in order to keep the scheme operational, which is the definition of a Ponzi scheme. When FIP ceased doing business in early 2018, investors were owed approximately $300 million.

This is not the first time Bracy has faced legal issues concerning these  FIP investments.  An investor initiated suit against NY Life concerning Bracy’s sale of these FIP investments in future income streams.  The investor filed for arbitration with FINRA in July 2018.

That lawsuit, which alleged damages in the amount $142,000, settled for $80,000.  The investor alleged that in December 2017 her investment in FIP, a private securities transaction, was misrepresented as a conservative and safe investment with a 7.5% annual return for ten (10) years.  The FIP investment is not a conservative investment and was known to be highly aggressive and inappropriate for most, if not all, investors.  

Likewise, Phillips has been the focus of multiple suits and was permitted to resign from Moloney.

 

 

 

Attention Dennis Mehringer Investors

If you were an investor with Dennis Mehringer call 303-300-5022 for a free and confidential consultation with a private attorney.

On October 18, 2019, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) barred Mr. Mehringer from the securities industry when he failed to defend charges that he handled his investor accounts inappropriately.

Mehringer was previously named a defendant in a FINRA regulatory complaint, a legal action brought by the national regulatory body overseeing securities brokers, alleging that he made unsuitable recommendations that caused a customer to engage in excessively expensive short-term trading and intra-day switching of mutual fund Class A shares.   

“Unsuitable” recommendations are recommendations of securities transactions or purchase of strategies that are inconsistent with the risk tolerance or investment objectives of an investor.  They can also be when a broker makes trades with the objectives of increasing the broker’s commission.  That is what happens with short-trading of mutual funds.  The high commissions of mutual funds are repeatedly charged so that there is little to no chance for the investments to make a reasonable return.  This is sometimes referred to as churning.  

The FINRA complaint alleges that Mehringer repeatedly recommended, and caused the investor to engage in, short-term purchases and sales of 84 mutual fund Class A positions (involving the sale of shares within a year of purchasing them) in five of the customer’s accounts.

In 47 of the 84 purchase transactions, investors paid front-end sales loads ranging from four to five percent. All but 17 of these 84 mutual fund positions were held for less than six months, and approximately 35 of them were held for less than three months. Mehringer received $169,735 in commissions from the transactions. Mehringer recommended the short-term mutual fund trading and the intra-day mutual fund switching alleged above without reasonable grounds to believe that the recommendations were suitable for the investor.

Given the long-term nature of Class A mutual fund share investments, along with the costs and commissions incurred in connection with frequent trading and switching between the mutual funds and mutual fund families, Mehringer’s short-term trading was unsuitable for any customer. The complaint also alleges that Mehringer exercised discretion in the same customer’s accounts without obtaining the customer’s written authorization and his member firm’s approval to do so. 

The actions of Mehringer are currently the subject of eleven arbitration suits brought by his investors against either him or his former employers.

Though Mehringer passed away in September 2020, his former firm is still responsible for the many frauds committed by Mehringer.

Jimmy Booth Investment Fraud

If you were with James “Jimmy” Booth, and question whether you are a victim of investment fraud, please call 303-300-5022.  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.

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 303-300-5022 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.

Pagartanis Fraud

If you were a victim of Steven Pagartanis please call 303-300-5022.  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.

On June 26, 2019, a FINRA arbitration panel awarded an investor a judgment in the amount of $1.46 million against Pagartanis for his role iin the multi-million dollar Ponzi scheme.

Jeffrey Pederson is an attorney who helps investors recover losses from brokerage firms through the FINRA arbitration process.  This is just one of the 17 customer complaint disclosures on his record.

Ami Forte Investigation

If you suffered losses with Ami Forte, please call 303-300-5022 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 303-300-5022 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.