Articles Posted in Investment Fraud

United Development Funding (“UDF”) has come under fire in recent months – being accused of operating like a “Ponzi scheme.”  It has allegedly disclosed that since April 2014, it has been under SEC investigation.

UDF operates several publicly-traded and non-traded Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) along with other real estate related companies, according to reports.  UDF reportedly operates in a manner that is different from traditional REITs – in that its assets are not real estate holdings, but rather development loans that it originates.

The UDF fund family is reportedly comprised of four public companies – United Mortgage Trust (non-traded), UDF III (non-traded), UDF IV (publicly traded symbol: UDF), and UDF V (non-traded).

The publicly traded UDF IV has declined in value from upwards of $18 per share to roughly $7 per share in only a few short months.  This means that those who invested in this public fund may have suffered losses of more than 50% seemingly overnight.  Meanwhile, those investors in the non-traded UDF III, UDF V, and United Mortgage Trust may find themselves with highly illiquid investments and potentially heavy losses.

If you or a family member invested in United Development Funding, you should contact our offices to explore your legal rights and options.  You can contact the investment fraud lawyers at Malecki Law for a free consultation and case evaluation at (212) 943-1233.

Malecki Law takes a proactive and informed approach to the financial news of today: actively engaging in fact-finding analysis on prospective cases from around the world. Our thorough knowledge of securities law’s history and fine points makes us ideal consultants for investors who have suffered losses due to misadvice from their broker or other financial counsel.

 

FINRA’s recently released Regulatory and Examinations Priority Letter made specific mention of multiple critical areas that the regulator will be focused on for the upcoming year.  The one that we will focus on today is the Senior investor and the steps that are and should be taken to prevent elder abuse.

As we have discussed here before, with the growing population of senior aged investors, this demographic is becoming increasingly significant in the retail investor pool nationwide.  Baby boomers are beginning to hit retirement age just as advancements in technology and medicine are leading to longer and longer lifespans.

Per 2012 census data, there are 76.4 million baby boomers which represent close to one-quarter of the then estimated U.S. population of 314 million.  These figures have coupled with longer lifespans across the boards, means that there is the potential for disaster if baby boomers’ retirement savings are not properly managed.  FINRA recognizes that “the consequences of unsuitable investment advice can be particularly severe for this investor group since they rarely can replenish investment portfolios with fresh funds and lack the time to make up losses.”

In response, many firms are reportedly increasing and emphasizing internal guidelines to focus on suitability and to train their financial advisors about issues dealing with senior investors.  FINRA has stated that it will be monitoring these actions taken by member firms.  Specifically, FINRA’s examination focus will be on:

  1. Communications with seniors;
  2. Suitability of investment recommendations made to seniors;
  3. Training of registered representatives with respect to senior specific issues; and
  4. Supervision over registered representatives with the goal of protecting seniors.

While the FINRA examination focus is largely focused on ensuring registered representatives do the right thing for their senior-aged clients, registered representatives should be cognizant of when a senior-aged client is possibly being taken advantage of by family or other trusted individuals.

As individuals age and their capacities naturally diminish, they can (and unfortunately frequently do) become the targets of elder abuse.  Examples of elder abuse can include, but certainly are not limited to, an individual “weaseling” their way into a senior’s will, large transfers of cash or securities out of an investment or bank account to a third-party, and a third-party being designated as the new beneficiary of an investment or life insurance policy.  Each of these examples is a relatively simple way to essentially rob someone who cannot defend themselves.

Fortunately, financial advisors, along with an estate planners and accountants, form a line of defense for these vulnerable individuals.  When a client comes forward with a distant relative or other previously unknown third-party as a beneficiary may be a good time to ask some questions.  Similarly, monetary transfers from a client’s investment account for an unknown purpose or as a substantial gift may also warrant some further investigation or a discussion with a supervisor.

Recognizing these situations and the benefit that a well-intentioned and astute financial advisor can provide, regulators and lawmakers have begun a push to afford brokers and broker-dealers some discretion in holding off on certain suspicious transactions that bear some indicia of elder fraud.  For example, a handful of states have laws on the books that permit broker-dealers to pause transactions deemed to be suspicious.  Likewise, NASAA (the North American Securities Administrators Association) has proposed “An Act to Protect Vulnerable Adults From Financial Exploitation.”  This proposed legislation would provide numerous tools to prevent elder abuse, including a similar provision “to delay disbursements from an account of a vulnerable adult if financial exploitation is suspected.”

Ultimately, there will be a continued focus on elder abuse an exploitation in the financial services industry this year and into the foreseeable future.  Registered representatives should be taking care to understand the issues that are coming up, the expectations that both their firms and the regulators have for them, and ensuring that their practices satisfy these expectations.

The investment and securities fraud attorneys at Malecki Law are interested in hearing from investors who have complaints about Wells Fargo stockbroker Gregg D. Lazarescu.

According to his BrokerCheck report maintained by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”), Mr. Lazarescu has been the subject of at least two customer complaints while registered with his prior firm Morgan Stanley.
In addition to Wells Fargo and Morgan Stanley, FINRA reports that Mr. Lazarescu was registered with MetLife, Chemical Investment Services Corp., Citicorp Investment Services, and Chase Investment Services Corp.

Industry records indicate that in 2004, a customer made allegations of unsuitability and misrepresentation against Mr. Lazarescu in connection with a mutual fund purchase. This claim was settled for $100,000, per his FINRA BrokerCheck Report.

In 2009, Mr. Lazarescu was reportedly the subject of another customer complaint. FINRA records indicate that the allegations in this matter involved the unauthorized purchase of an auction rate security in a client account. Per BrokerCheck, this case was settled for $50,000 in connection with FINRA Regulatory Notice 09-12.

Investors who have been given unsuitable investment recommendations by their financial advisor or stockbroker may have the right to sue to recover some or all of their losses.

Financial advisors and stockbrokers are under the obligation to make only suitable recommendations to their customers. They must consider things such as investment objective and risk tolerance, as well as the customers’ age and other important factors before recommending an investment. When a customer makes an unsuitable investment at the recommendation of their financial advisor, that investor may be entitled to have the firm reimburse them for their losses or in some cases even compensate them for the lost profits they should have made had the money been properly invested.

If you or a family member lost money entrusted to Gregg Lazarescu or Wells Fargo and want to explore your rights, you are encouraged to contact the securities and investment fraud lawyers at Malecki Law for a free consultation and case evaluation at (212) 943-1233.

Malecki Law has successfully brought securities actions on behalf of investors who suffered losses as a result of unscrupulous actions taken in their securities accounts, recovering millions of dollars for their clients.

Malecki Law takes a proactive and informed approach to the financial news of today: actively engaging in fact-finding analysis on prospective cases from around the world. Our thorough knowledge of securities law’s history and fine points makes us ideal consultants for investors who have suffered losses due to misadvice from their broker or other financial counsel.

Shares of OncoMed (OMED) plunged more than 40% today, January 25th, in the wake of a report concerning a pancreatic cancer drug the company had reportedly been working on.  According to Marketwatch, “an independent data safety monitoring board advised ‘of several findings regarding futility’ of a Phase 2 treatment of pancreatic cancer.’”

Investors who have lost money in OncoMed may be legally entitled to recover some or all of their losses and are encouraged to contact the attorneys at Malecki Law to explore their rights.

Unfortunately, issues like the one presently facing OncoMed can happen in the market.  Even more unfortunate is that often times financial advisors will improperly advise their clients to take large positions in advance of the release of a report concerning a company’s prized drug, like Tarextumab.

The hope would be that the report would be favorable and the company stock will yield large profits for the investor and big commissions for the broker.  However, this “all or nothing” strategy can be extremely risky for the investor.

Regrettably, brokers will frequently fail to properly advise their client of the extreme risks that may be involved in placing a big bet on one stock.  Instead brokers may encourage their client with only positive analysis and promises of big profits, saying it’s a “sure thing.”

Such large bets are typically not suitable for your average investor.   They are usually best reserved for highly sophisticated investors who have the ability to properly assess the investment risks and absorb the potentially enormous losses.  Frequently, these are wealthy hedge fund managers and the like.  Even for most of the very wealthy, these investments would likely not be suitable absent extremely high levels sophistication and investment experience.

If an investment is not suitable for a customer, the broker is not permitted to recommend that the customer invest – plain and simple.

But, if a broker makes an unsuitable investment recommendation to a customer, the customer may be legally entitled to recover all or some of their losses.

So, if you or a family member lost money in OncoMed at the recommendation of a financial advisor and want to explore your rights, you are encouraged to contact the securities and investment fraud lawyers at Malecki Law for a free consultation and case evaluation at (212) 943-1233.

Malecki Law has successfully brought securities actions on behalf of investors who suffered losses as a result of unscrupulous actions taken in their securities accounts, recovering millions of dollars for their clients.

Malecki Law takes a proactive and informed approach to the financial news of today: actively engaging in fact-finding analysis on prospective cases from around the world. Our thorough knowledge of securities law’s history and fine points makes us ideal consultants for investors who have suffered losses due to misadvice from their broker or other financial counsel.

The securities and investment fraud attorneys at Malecki Law are interested in hearing from investors who have complaints against Florida stockbroker John T. Keyser. Mr. Keyser is reportedly registered with Dawson James Securities, Inc. in Boca Raton, Florida. Industry records indicate that Mr. Keyser has also recently been registered with Viewtrade Financial and SAL Financial Services.

According to BrokerCheck, as maintained by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”), Mr. Keyser has been the subject of three customer complaints and a suspension of his license.

In 1998, Mr. Keyser reportedly had his FINRA (then NASD) license to sell securities suspended for failing to pay an arbitration award against him.

FINRA records indicate that in 2002, Mr. Keyser was the subject of a customer complaint for unauthorized trading while he was with SAL Securities.

In 2006, another customer complaint was filed against Mr. Keyser for failing to place a stoploss order while with Dawson James Securities, per BrokerCheck.

In 2010, a customer filed a claim alleging churning, intentional and negligent misrepresentation, unsuitability, breach of fiduciary duty and unauthorized trading in an account for whom Mr. Keyser was the broker of record at Dawson James, according to FINRA.

Unauthorized trading occurs when a broker executes trades in the customer’s “non-discretionary” account without the customer’s consent or prior authorization. In a non-discretionary account, the broker is supposed to speak with the customer prior to executing trades. On the other hand, when a broker has discretion over a customer’s account, the broker is free to trade in the account without speaking to the customer first. In this type of relationship, there is a fiduciary duty between the broker and customer.

A problem (and securities law violation) arises when a broker who does not have discretion over a customer’s account begins trading without speaking to the customer. Frequently, unauthorized trades are executed by brokers to generate higher commissions for the broker or to invest the customer in riskier investments than would be appropriate for the customer, in our experience.

Our office has successfully represented many clients who have been the victims of unauthorized trading in recovering the losses suffered in their accounts. If you or a family member suffered losses with John T. Keyser and Dawson James Securities, you are encouraged to contact the securities and investment fraud lawyers at Malecki Law for a free consultation and case evaluation at (212) 943-1233.

Malecki Law has successfully brought securities actions on behalf of investors who suffered losses as a result of unscrupulous actions taken in their securities accounts, recovering millions of dollars for their clients.

Malecki Law takes a proactive and informed approach to the financial news of today: actively engaging in fact-finding analysis on prospective cases from around the world. Our thorough knowledge of securities law’s history and fine points makes us ideal consultants for investors who have suffered losses due to misadvice from their broker or other financial counsel.

The securities and investment fraud attorneys are interested in hearing from investors with complaints involving Scott Teich of Raymond James. Per his BrokerCheck Report, maintained by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”), Mr. Teich is a registered stock broker with Raymond James, based out of Florida.

Mr. Teich’s BrokerCheck Report indicates that he has been the subject of at least six customer complaints. He has also reportedly been the subject of an “employment separation after allegations.”

In addition to Raymond James, Mr. Teich has also been registered with Gruntal & Co., First Colonial Securities, Paragon Capital Corp (which FINRA reports was “expelled” from FINRA in 2004).

In 1999, Mr. Teich was reportedly the subject of a customer complaint alleging “high-pressure sales tactics” and “misleading information.”

Shortly thereafter, Mr. Teich voluntarily resigned during an internal firm investigation, per FINRA records.

Two years later, in 2001, a customer of Mr. Teich’s complained about “speculative, risky and unsuitable investments” purchased in their account. That case was reportedly settled for $22,500.

BrokerCheck indicates that in 2005, Mr. Teich was the broker of record in a complaint concerning unsuitable variable annuities.

In 2008, Mr. Teich was again reported to be the subject of a customer complaint alleging improper activity in a client account. This time the allegations surrounded “unauthorized trades.”

In 2010, FINRA records indicate that Mr. Teich was the subject of a $300,000 customer complaint concerning “suitability, breach of contract, misrepresentation, negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, common law fraud, violation of Florida Statutes Chapter 517, [and] fraudulent inducement.”

Mr. Teich’s most recent reported customer complaint, in 2011, was related to auction rate securities and was settled for $25,000.

If you or a family member lost money with Scott Teich, you are encouraged to contact the securities and investment fraud lawyers at Malecki Law for a free consultation and case evaluation at (212) 943-1233.

Malecki Law has successfully brought securities actions on behalf of investors who suffered losses as a result of unscrupulous actions taken in their securities accounts, recovering millions of dollars for their clients.

Malecki Law takes a proactive and informed approach to the financial news of today: actively engaging in fact-finding analysis on prospective cases from around the world. Our thorough knowledge of securities law’s history and fine points makes us ideal consultants for investors who have suffered losses due to misadvice from their broker or other financial counsel.

The securities fraud attorneys at Malecki Law are interested in hearing from investors who have complaints against stockbroker Timothy L. Pilkington.  Mr. Pilkington was employed and registered with Stephens, a broker-dealer with an office in Memphis Tennessee from January 2012 through March 2015, according to his publicly available BrokerCheck, as maintained by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).  He was also previously registered with Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, according to industry records.

According to his BrokerCheck, Mr. Pilkington was the subject of one customer complaint in 2009.  More recently, a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent (AWC) was accepted by FINRA stating that Mr. Pilkington was barred from associating with any broker-dealer for failing to respond to the FINRA 8210 request for information.  8210 Requests require that people registered to recommend and sell securities must provide documents, testimony and information regarding matters under investigation.  According to the AWC, Mr. Pilkington failed to disclose two FDIC orders to FINRA.  One of those orders disclosed that Mr. Pilkington agreed to pay $2,500, where “the FDIC considered the matter and determined it had reason to believe that the [he] has engaged or participated in violations of law, unsafe or unsound banking practices and/or breaches of fiduciary duty.”  In another FDIC order, Mr. Pilkington was “prohibited from participating in the conduct of affairs of, or exercising voting rights in, any insured institution without the prior written approval of the FDIC.”

If you or a family member lost money that was invested with Mr. Pilkington, you are encouraged to contact the securities fraud lawyers at Malecki Law for a free consultation and case evaluation at (212) 943-1233.

Malecki Law has successfully brought securities actions on behalf of investors who suffered losses as a result of unscrupulous actions taken in their securities accounts, recovering millions of dollars for their clients.

Malecki Law takes a proactive and informed approach to the financial news of today: actively engaging in fact-finding analysis on prospective cases from around the world. Our thorough knowledge of securities law’s history and fine points makes us ideal consultants for investors who have suffered losses due to misadvice from their broker or other financial counsel.

The securities fraud attorneys at Malecki Law are interested in hearing from investors who have complaints against stockbroker Robert Emmet Gill.  Mr. Gill is employed and registered with Chelsea Financial Services, a broker-dealer with an office in Tinton Falls, New Jersey, according to his publicly available BrokerCheck, as maintained by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).  He was also previously registered with J.P. Turner & Company, LLC, Grayson Financial, LLC, M.S. Farrell & Company, Inc. and Investors Associates, Inc.  Grayson and Investors Associates were expelled from FINRA in 2006 and 1998, respectively.

According to his BrokerCheck report, a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent (AWC) was accepted by FINRA stating that Mr. Gill was fined $5,000 and suspended from associating with any broker-dealer for borrowing $100,000 from a customer without notifying his then-employer J.P. Turner & Company, in violation of industry rules.  Mr. Gill’s BrokerCheck report also discloses that he was “permitted to resign” from J.P. Turner based on the same allegations as those set forth in the AWC.

Mr. Gill’s BrokerCheck report sets forth that he was the subject of four customer disputes involving allegations of unsuitable investment recommendations, misrepresentations made and churning.  Three of those four disputes resulted in settlements of $700,000 (with Mr. Gill contributing $50,000 personally), $32,500 and $35,610, respectively, according to industry records.

Mr. Gill’s BrokerCheck report also the subject of the following prior disciplinary history:

  • On May 11, 2013, the New York State Department of Financial Services – Insurance fined Gill $750 for failing to disclose his criminal history on an insurance producer application and administrative actions taken by other state insurance departments.
  • On April 28, 2010, the Alabama Department of Insurance fined Gill $300 for providing incorrect information on the Uniform Application for Individual Insurance Producer License with regard to Gill’s NASD disciplinary history.
  • On April 20, 2004, Gill submitted an AWC in which, without admitting or denying the allegations, he consented to findings that he entered an unauthorized purchase of 350 shares of equity securities in violation of’ NASD Conduct Rule 2110 and IM-23104. Gill was fined $5,000 and was suspended from associating with any FINRA member firm in all capacities for 10 business days.

If you or a family member lost money that was invested with Mr. Gill, you are encouraged to contact the securities fraud lawyers at Malecki Law for a free consultation and case evaluation at (212) 943-1233.

Malecki Law has successfully brought securities actions on behalf of investors who suffered losses as a result of unscrupulous actions taken in their securities accounts, recovering millions of dollars for their clients.

Malecki Law takes a proactive and informed approach to the financial news of today: actively engaging in fact-finding analysis on prospective cases from around the world. Our thorough knowledge of securities law’s history and fine points makes us ideal consultants for investors who have suffered losses due to misadvice from their broker or other financial counsel.

The securities fraud attorneys are interested in hearing from investors with complaints involving Jeffrey G. Lyon.  Per his BrokerCheck Report, maintained by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”), Mr. Lyon is no longer a registered stock broker.  Per BrokerCheck, Mr. Lyon was last licensed to sell investments through FINRA in 2013 when he was registered with Joseph Gunnar & Co LLC.

Mr. Lyon’s BrokerCheck Report also indicates that he has been the subject of at least two customer complaints in his final three years in the brokerage industry.  Per FINRA, the complaints against Mr. Lyon have alleged unsuitable investment recommendations and unauthorized trading.

In addition to Joseph Gunnar & Co., Mr. Lyon has also reportedly been registered with Charles Vista LLC and John Thomas Financial.  Both of these firms were expelled by FINRA in 2014 and 2013, respectively, per FINRA records.

If you or a family member lost money invested with Jeffrey G. Lyon, you are encouraged to contact the investment fraud lawyers at Malecki Law for a free consultation and case evaluation at (212) 943-1233.

Malecki Law has successfully brought securities actions on behalf of investors who suffered losses as a result of unscrupulous actions taken in their securities accounts, recovering millions of dollars for their clients.

Malecki Law takes a proactive and informed approach to the financial news of today: actively engaging in fact-finding analysis on prospective cases from around the world. Our thorough knowledge of securities law’s history and fine points makes us ideal consultants for investors who have suffered losses due to misadvice from their broker or other financial counsel.

The securities fraud attorneys at Malecki Law are interested in hearing from investors who have complaints against stockbroker Rudolf Malebranche.  Mr. Malebranche was employed and registered with Santander Securities LLC.  He was previously registered with J.P. Morgan Securities LLC, Chase Investment Securities Corp., Wachovia Securities, Morgan Stanley DW, Inc., Prudential Securities, Inc. and Whale Securities Co., L.P., according to his publicly available BrokerCheck, as maintained by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

According to his BrokerCheck report, a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent (AWC) was accepted by FINRA stating that Mr. Malebranche was fined $5,000 and suspended from associating with any broker-dealer for three months as a result of submitting a switch form, which authorized the sale of two mutual funds, after himself filling in the customer’s initials on the form without the authorization from the client.  As a result of this conduct, Mr. Malebranche was also discharged from employment with J.P. Morgan Securities LLC, according to industry records.

Mr. Malebranche also was the subject of a customer complaint alleging unsuitability in connection with the sale of a fixed annuity, resulting in $15,892.28 repaid to the customer (more than the $15,650 requested), according to the BrokerCheck report.

If you or a family member lost money that was invested with Mr. Malebranche, you are encouraged to contact the securities fraud lawyers at Malecki Law for a free consultation and case evaluation at (212) 943-1233.

Malecki Law has successfully brought securities actions on behalf of investors who suffered losses as a result of unscrupulous actions taken in their securities accounts, recovering millions of dollars for their clients.

Malecki Law takes a proactive and informed approach to the financial news of today: actively engaging in fact-finding analysis on prospective cases from around the world. Our thorough knowledge of securities law’s history and fine points makes us ideal consultants for investors who have suffered losses due to misadvice from their broker or other financial counsel.