Articles Tagged with investor fraud

The securities fraud attorneys at Malecki Law are interested in hearing from investors who have complaints against stockbroker Christopher B Ariola.  Mr. Ariola was last employed and registered with Financial Telesis, Inc., an Aliso Viejo broker-dealer, from November 2012 to September 2014, according to his publicly available BrokerCheck, as maintained by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).  He was previously registered with Bay Mutual Financial LLC from September 2004 to September 2012, according to BrokerCheck records.

FINRA filed Disciplinary Proceeding No. 2012034139101 against Mr. Ariola on August 25, 2016 alleging that he recommended that three elderly retiree investors invest a “substantial portion of their limited retirement assets in certain gold and energy stocks.”  The Complaint further alleged that these recommendations were unsuitable because they were not appropriate given each investor’s respective financial circumstances, investment objectives and low risk tolerances, and because the recommendations resulted in each account becoming concentrated in gold and energy stocks.  Gold is a commodity, which like energy stocks, can be traded.  Both commodities and energy stocks tend tobe risky investments and can lead to large losses.

According to his BrokerCheck report, Mr. Ariola has been the subject of four customer complaints.  The latest customer complaint led to a FINRA arbitration proceeding, according to BrokerCheck records.  The BrokerCheck records reveal that the customer alleged churning and unsuitability.  Churning is generally defined as excessive trading by the broker in the client’s account to generate commissions.  FINRA Rules require that recommendations made by the broker to the customer be suitable.  This means that the broker must consider the investor’s age, investment experience, age, tax status, other investments, as well as other factors when making a recommendation to buy or sell securities.

First, it was M.I.T., Yale and N.Y.U. Then, Duke University, Johns Hopkins, University of Pennsylvania, and Vanderbilt were sued for excessive fees in their employees’ retirement accounts, according to a New York Times report. With these class-action suits filed, let’s examine what are the common problems and allegations made against 403(b) plans.

403(b) plans, are similar to 401(k) retirement plans available to employees of public schools and nonprofit institutions like universities and hospitals. The most common allegation that has been reported against 403(b) plans is excessive fees that result in lost retirement savings for the investors. These universities reportedly used multiple ‘record keeper’ providers and paid excessive revenue sharing payments to these providers, amounting to millions of dollars in lost savings.

While the employee investors would have benefited more from fewer simplified options that leveraged economies of scale, there were 400+ investment options which were confusing for them and made them opt for duplicative strategies according the same news report. Allegedly, millions of dollars in retirement assets were unsuitably invested in underperforming funds in a retail share class as opposed to a less-expensive institutional share class. The investment advisors for these plans allegedly breached their fiduciary duty which mandates the reduction of excessive fees and conflicts of interest that erode retirement savings for all investors.

The securities fraud attorneys at Malecki Law are interested in hearing from investors who have complaints against stockbroker Steven M. Wisniewski.  Mr. Wisniewski is currently employed and registered with Newbridge Securities Corporation and works at the broker-dealer’s Boca Raton, Florida office, according to his publicly available BrokerCheck records maintained by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

Per his BrokerCheck report, Mr. Wisniewski was previously employed and registered by Cambridge Investment Research, Inc. from November 2012 to May 2015, Ridgeway & Conger, Inc. from September 2011 to November 2012, and J.P. Turner & Company, LLC from July 2003 to September 2011.

According to his BrokerCheck report, Mr. Wisniewski was the subject of a recent customer complaint received in or around April 2015 alleging churning, unauthorized trading, misrepresentation, negligence, forgery and fraud.  The case is currently pending, with alleged damages of $200,000, according to BrokerCheck records.

The investment fraud attorneys at Malecki Law are interested in hearing from investors who have complaints regarding Raymond James Financial Services broker Joseph Amalfitano of Malvern, PA. According to his BrokerCheck report maintained by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”), Mr. Amalfitano moved to Raymond James after stints at Citigroup and Merrill Lynch.

Mr. Amalfitano was recently the subject of two customer complaints since 2008, per FINRA records.

According to his BrokerCheck, in 2012, Mr. Amalfitano was alleged to have “maintained an unsuitable concentration of Bank of America stock” in customers’ accounts. Overconcentration can be dangerous since it has the potential to create higher risk and volatility of an account when compared to a more balanced, diversified portfolio. FINRA records indicate this case was settled.

Malecki Law’s team of investment attorneys are interested in speaking with those who invested in AR Global REITs. Industry analysts and consultants believe that investors in a number of AR Global-sponsored real estate investment trusts (REITs) are in danger of having their distributions cut, per InvestmentNews.

Specifically, investors in American Realty Capital Global Trust II, American Realty Capital New York City REIT, American Finance Trust, American Realty Capital Hospitality Trust, American Realty Capital Retail Centers of America, Healthcare Trust, and Realty Finance Trust may be at risk, according to the report.

The problem is said to stem from the MFFO (modified funds from operations a/k/a cash flow) at seven of AR Global’s REITs. The MFFO of these seven funds reportedly failed to match or exceed their distributions. In simple terms, this would mean that the funds failed to take in as much as they were distributing. Such a situation has the potential to mean big trouble for investors including distribution cuts and rapid decline in asset value – i.e., less income and large losses to the principal.

The securities fraud attorneys at Malecki Law are interested in hearing from investors who have complaints against stockbroker Catherine A. Sheridan.  Since April 2015, Ms. Sheridan has been employed and registered with Race Rock Capital, LLC, a broker-dealer, working out of the Boston, Massachusetts office, according to her publicly available BrokerCheck, as maintained by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

Per her BrokerCheck report, Ms. Sheridan was previously employed by North South Capital, LLC from 2010 to 2015, Sound Securities, LLC from 2007 to 2010 and Tradition Asiel Securities, Inc. from 2004 to 2007.

Ms. Sheridan was fined and suspended for two months from association with any FINRA member broker-dealer by FINRA according to a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent No. 2015044475901 (AWC).  According to the AWC, Ms. Sheridan violated Article V, Section 2(c) of FINRA’s By-Laws and FINRA Rules 1122 and 2010 for failing to timely file amendments to her U-4 to report tax liens.  According to the AWC, Ms. Sheridan resigned from North South Capital, LLC two days after she amended her U-4 to report a tax lien.  According to FINRA BrokerCheck records, Ms. Sheridan’s suspension started on May 16, 2016 and ends on July 15, 2016.

Morgan Stanley broker Armando Fernandez has been suspended by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) for 20 business days, according to publicly available FINRA records.  Per a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent filed with FINRA, Mr. Fernandez was accused of exercising discretion in a customer account without prior written acceptance of the account as discretionary from his member firm.  FINRA records indicate that Mr. Fernandez was also fined $7,500.

Generally, brokers are prohibited from placing trades in a customer account without speaking to the customer first, unless an account is a discretionary account.  When discretion is given by the customer to the broker, it is typically documented in a signed agreement.  When there is not such a signed agreement, and a broker executes transactions on a discretionary basis anyway, violations of FINRA Rules likely have taken place.

Customers who have been the victim of brokers improperly exercising discretion in their accounts (or violating other FINRA Rules) may be entitled to recover their losses in an action against the firm and/or broker responsible.

The securities fraud attorneys at Malecki Law are interested in hearing from investors who have complaints against stockbroker Kenneth Daley.  Mr. Daley was employed and registered from October 2007 to June 2016 with Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Inc., a Garden City, New York broker-dealer, according to his publicly available BrokerCheck, as maintained by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).  According to BrokerCheck records, Mr. Daley voluntarily resigned from Merrill Lynch amid allegations that he was involved in “[c]onduct involving improperly receiving money from a client via checks written from an outside account.”

Per his BrokerCheck report, prior to his employment and subsequent resignation from Merrill Lynch, Mr. Daley was employed by Wachovia Securities from 2003 to October 2007.

Subsequent to his resignation, Mr. Daley was barred from association with any FINRA member broker-dealer on June 27, 2016 by FINRA, after submitting a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent No. 2016050129701 (AWC).  According to the AWC, Mr. Daley violated:

The Bexit vote in Britain appears to be exposing fault lines across various investments.  The Wall Street Journal reported today that emerging market currencies are taking on steep losses a day after Britain voted to leave the European Union, termed Brexit.  According to the article, this comes as the British Pound dropped to a thirty year low and Standard & Poor’s downgraded the U.K. down from Triple-A status.

Other investments are also showing strain, including oil, and foreign companies, including European banks.  These investments are often packaged into products such as exchange traded funds or limited partnerships, which are generally considered risky and not suitable for certain investors.

For instance, we have commented in recent blog posts that oil and gas limited partnerships are not appropriate for investors that cannot afford to have a significant portion of their portfolio locked up in such an illiquid investment that generally pays high commissions to the brokers who recommend them.

The securities fraud attorneys at Malecki Law are interested in hearing from investors who have complaints against stockbroker Walter Marino.  Mr. Marino is currently employed and registered with Lincoln Investment, a broker-dealer, working out of the Dix Hills, New York office, according to his publicly available BrokerCheck, as maintained by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

Per his BrokerCheck report, Mr. Marino was previously employed by Legend Securities from 2002 to August 2015, when he was discharged after the “Firm discovered what [Mr. Marino] represented as a non-replacement [variable annuity] sale was in fact a replacement.”  Prior to his employment and subsequent termination from Legend Securities, Mr. Marino left Brill Securities in 2001 by “voluntary resignation” amid allegations of unauthorized trading activity and disregarding a customer’s investments, according to BrokerCheck.

Currently, according to BrokerCheck records, it appears Mr. Marino is a registered broker in Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and South Carolina.