Articles Tagged with investors

In recent years, exchange-traded products, “ETFs,” have become increasingly more popular on Wall Street and in the investor community. Institutional investors and retail investors alike have invested in exchange-traded products. Astoundingly, exchange-traded funds are a trillion-dollar market that continues to grow in value with passing time. While some ETFs are like mutual funds, others are a speculative gamble. There are many ETFs that investors should be wary of before deciding to invest. Not all ETFs are created equal.

What are Exchange-Traded Funds and How Do They Work?

Exchange-traded funds are securities that track an index, basket of stocks, bonds or a commodity. For an investor to own an ETF is the equivalent of indirectly holding a share of the total basket of underlying assets. In return, the investor receives a proportional amount of the fund’s profits and residuals. Investors can also use exchange-traded funds as a tracking mechanism for exposure to a specific index or collection of securities.

istock88023523small-crop-600x338-300x169According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, 17 percent of Americans 65 and older, have already been the victims of financial exploitation.

A new study by the AARP Fraud Watch Network reveals that Americans who lose money to fraud typically exhibit a higher degree of confidence investing in unregulated investments and tend to trade more aggressively than other investors. The fraud watch network interviewed 200 victims of investment fraud and conducted 800 interviews with regular investors for this study that was commissioned a year earlier.

There has been a change in the way investors save for retirement. People are now more used to taking charge of their retirement since traditional pension plans have declined and technology has made it easier for average investors to enroll in trading and retirement accounts. The AARP study quotes Shadel, their lead researcher as saying “decline in traditional pensions has prompted millions of relatively inexperienced Americans to take on the job of investing their own money.” Technology has also made it easier for scammers to reach investors.

551783_street_of_wealthGenerally speaking, it’s usually not a good thing when when a company is fined for similar conduct multiple times.

Just this month, UBS Financial Services, Inc. submitted a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent No. 2013038351701 (AWC) that detailed a $250,000 fine for failures in supervision regarding sales of mutual fund shares to investors.  According to the AWC, for a four year period, from approximately 2009 to 2013, UBS failed to provide sales charge waivers to customers entitled to waivers through rights of reimbursement.  The AWC detailed that this conduct created a violation of FINRA Rule 2010 (Standards of Commercial Honor and Principles of Trade).

Mutual fund class A shares generally require the investor to pay an upfront sales charge, except where the mutual fund waives the charge, such as when the mutual fund is purchased with a right of reimbursement.  The AWC detailed that investors sometimes purchase class A shares with right of reimbursement when they reinvest proceeds from earlier redemptions of Class A shares in the same fund or fund family within a specific time period.

12234_corporate_blurThe investment and securities fraud attorneys at Malecki Law are interested in hearing from investors who have complaints regarding Wells Fargo financial advisor Robert Ross.  According to his BrokerCheck report maintained by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”), Mr. Ross recently moved to Wells Fargo after spending 30 years at Merrill Lynch.

Mr. Ross was recently the subject of a customer complaint alleging unsuitable investment recommendations and excessive trading, per FINRA records.  BrokerCheck indicates that an arbitration related to this customer complaint is presently pending.

Excessive trading, also known as churning, in the industry can be disastrous for a portfolio.  When a broker trades an account excessively, large amounts of commissions and fees may be generated, if the account is commission based (as opposed to fee based).  Churning is a classic example of a broker putting his or her own monetary gain above the best interests of his or her customer.

The securities fraud attorneys at Malecki Law are interested in hearing from investors who have complaints against stockbroker Brandon Gioffre.  Mr. Gioffre was employed and registered from July 2014 to August 2015 with Constellation Wealth Advisors LLC, a New York broker-dealer, according to his publicly available BrokerCheck, as maintained by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).  According to BrokerCheck records, Mr. Gioffre voluntarily resigned from Constellation amid allegations that he was involved in “soliciting a private placement” to three individuals.

Per his BrokerCheck report, prior to his employment and subsequent resignation from Constellation, Mr. Gioffre was employed by Morgan Stanley Smith Barney from June 2009 to June 2014 and was discharged from this firm amid allegations of “fee reversals in [his] personal Morgan Stanley account, continuing to maintain a pre-existing outside investment that never received written approval from the firm, and fund transfers between [his] personal Morgan Stanley account and the accounts of family members.”

Subsequent to his resignation, Mr. Gioffre was barred from association with any FINRA member broker-dealer on June 22, 2016 by FINRA, after submitting a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent No. 2015046448701 (AWC).  According to the AWC, Mr. Gioffre violated FINRA Rule 3040 by recommending to several people an investment in a private placement that was not offered through his firm.  The AWC further stated that Mr. Gioffre “created the false impression that [the firm] sanctioned the private placement” by using the firm’s offices for meetings and his business email account to communicate with the investors.

New research shows that getting senior-aged investors to exhibit heightened emotions may cause those investors to more easily part with their hard-earned savings and retirement proceeds, according to a New Release published by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

The research was made possible with funding from the AARP Fraud Watch Network and the FINRA Investor Education Foundation.  In the study, Stanford University Psychologists found that inducing emotions in older adults increased their intention to buy falsely advertised items, according to the News Release.  As reported, the study was conducted on younger adults and older adults, with both groups were induced to exhibit excitement or anger before watching advertisements known to be misleading.  According to the Release, the young adults group tended to believe advertisements based on their believability, and not subjective emotional states, while older adults tended to believe the misleading advertisements based only on their emotional states.

One researcher was quoted as noting “Whether the con artist tries to get you caught up in the excitement of potential riches or angry at the thought of past and future losses, the research shows their central tactic is the same and just as effective… Cons are skilled at getting their victims in to a heightened emotional state where you suspend rational thinking and willingly hand over your hard earned money to a crook.”

stock-down-300x225Shares 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.

exchange-cross-rates-1241602-300x200The 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).

778488_stone_judgeMalecki Law is pleased to announce that we recently obtained Summary Judgment dismissal on behalf of a well-known Chinese inventor, who was a Defendant in the case that was pending in the Commercial Division of New York Supreme Court in New York County.  Our client was sued by hedge fund Abax Lotus Ltd. over speculative investments Abax made more than eight years ago in a company called China Mobile Media Technology, Inc.  The Inventor was a shareholder in China Mobile Media.  Abax has filed a notice of its intention to appeal the decision, which both dismissed Abax’s motion for judgment, and granted the Inventor’s motion dismissing all claims against him.

Our client was personally named in the New York State lawsuit, alongside the company he worked for, over Abax’s investment.  Abax previously obtained a judgment against the company, but sought to hold the Defendant personally liable.  Justice O. Peter Sherwood, ruling from the bench, correctly noted that the Defendant-Inventor’s agreement as a shareholder did not make him personally liable for the company’s failures.

Correctly citing the seminal New York Court of Appeals case Hooper Assocs. v. AGS Computers, Inc., Justice Sherwood determined that the indemnification provisions relied on by Abax for the Defendant’s supposed liability did not apply.  Justice Sherwood went further, determining that Abax “[did not] have the goods” to establish their claim against the Defendant.

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Ms. Jenice Malecki was a moderator today at Public Investors Arbitration Bar Association’s (PIABA) panel on ‘The Danger of Diminished Capacity, Ethics as a Broker and for the Lawyer.’ The seminar discussed what diminished capacity is, important studies on dealing with clients with diminished capacity as financial advisors and lawyers, and elder financial abuse and privacy law issues. The panel moderated by Ms. Malecki consisted of distinguished members of the financial and legal community including the President of the Investor Trust Protection, a former SEC attorney and an elder lawyer.

According to FINRA’s estimates, the elderly lose approximately $ 2.9 billion every year due to fraud and an average of 10,000 Americans will turn 65 over the next 15 years. Senior investors with diminished capacity are more at risk of falling victim to financial fraud than other investors and the financial industry should fully utilize its power to prevent substantial economic harm to elderly clients.  Ms. Malecki has also co-authored an article for PIABA titled Protecting Clients with Diminished Capacity In The Securities Industry: It’s Tricky.

This panel is part of PIABA’s 24th Annual Meeting held in Florida from Oct 21- 23, 2015.