Articles Tagged with LPL financial

The securities fraud attorneys at Malecki Law are interested in hearing from investors who have complaints against stockbroker Megan Resch.  Ms. Resch is currently registered to sell securities with LPL Financial LLC in the broker-dealer’s Morristown, New Jersey office, according to her publicly available BrokerCheck records maintained by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). Ms. Resch has been registered with LPL Financial since November 2010, and before then was registered to sell securities with Multi-Financial Securities Corporation in Martinsville, New Jersey from January 2006 to November 2010, according to her BrokerCheck records.

Ms. Resch’s BrokerCheck records indicate that two customers have raised disputes regarding her recommendations, including 2014 allegations of an unsuitable limited partnership investment that causes losses, which was settled for $78,400.  Additionally, a customer alleged in 2011 that there were misrepresentation and suitability issues on investments from April 2007 to December 2010, which dispute was settled for $105,000, according to the BrokerCheck records.

Generally speaking, 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, tax status, other investments, as well as other factors when making a recommendation to buy or sell securities.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) announced on July 19, 2016 in a News Release that it had fined Prudential Annuities Distributors, Inc. $950,000 for “failing to detect and prevent a scheme that resulted in the theft of approximately $1.3 million from an 89-year-old customer’s variable annuity account.  Prudential Annuities Distributors acts as a principal underwriter and distributing broker-dealer for life and annuity products issued by its affiliates.

According to the News Release, a former registered Sales Assistant named Travis Wetzel, who worked at LPL Financial, stole money from the elderly customer’s account by submitting to Prudential Annuities Distributors 14 forged annuity withdrawal requests.  The News Release detailed that each month, from July 2010 to September 2012, Mr. Wetzel submitted 4 to 5 withdrawal requests totaling approximately $50,000.  The News Alert detailed that all withdrawn funds were deposited into an account in Mr. Wetzel’s wife’s maiden name that was controlled by Mr. Wetzel.

Prudential Annuities Distributors consented to the fine by submitting a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent No. 2012034423502 (AWC).  According to the AWC, each transaction submitted by Mr. Wetzel triggered an alert, or a “red flag,” putting Prudential Annuities Distributors on notice that his requests may be fraudulent.  Each alert required that a person manually review and confirm each transaction, and for each transaction, personnel determined the activity appeared legitimate, according to the AWC.  The AWC also noted that for 44 transfers, Prudential Annuities Distributors also determined that the withdrawn funds were paid to the customer, when they were not actually sent to the customer.

LPL Financial LLC has agreed to pay two more settlements, and these are big ones.  On September 23, 2015, it was announced that LPL Financial entered into two settlements for disputes arising from the firm’s supervisory system over recommendations of alternative products, including non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs).  This time, LPL has agreed to pay $1.425 million to 48 States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, according to a news release put out by the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA).  Separately, it was reported that LPL agreed to pay Massachusetts and Delaware Attorneys General $1.8 million for placing 200 clients into leveraged exchange traded funds (ETFs).  To top it off, it appears New Hampshire regulators continue to seek approximately $3.6 million from LPL arising from the sale of non-traded REITs, according to the Think Advisor article.

LPL Financial is no stranger to substantial fines for supervisory failures tied to alternative products.  In May 2015, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) fined LPL Financial $11.7 million over failing to properly supervise complicated products such as nontraditional ETFs.  Malecki Law also noted in March 2014 that LPL was fined $950,000 by the over its supervisory failures stemming from recommendations of non-traded REITs and other illiquid investments.  At that time, we posited the question whether the fines being assessed are large enough to deter future bad conduct?  Time will tell.  Malecki Law continues to represent and recover money for investors that suffered losses as a result of unscrupulous recommendations in non-traded REITs and other alternative products such as leveraged ETFs.

Non-traded REITs are particularly problematic and unsuitable products for many investors.  Brokers like to recommend them because the products typically pay a high commission, but non-traded REITs are illiquid and may cause a substantial loss to the investor’s principal payment when buyers on secondary markets will only accept the products at a drastic discount to the actual price initially paid.

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