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Articles Posted in Misappropriation

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Jackie Divono Wadsworth (CRD #2342163) is a former registered broker and currently registered investment advisor whose last employer was IMS SECURITIES, INC. (CRD #35567) of Houston, TX. She worked for IMS since 1994, and the firm was expelled by FINRA on 9/04/2018. Previously, she worked for Retirement Investment Group (CRD #7421), also of Houston. She has been in the industry since 1993.

National Securities Corporation: Frequent Customer Disputes with FINRA on silverlaw.comIn 2017, Wadsworth was involved in a customer dispute involving multiple claimants while at IMS Securities. In it, the claimants alleged that “a non-party under the supervision of Respondents induced Claimants to invest in unsuitable, high-risk, illiquid investments, including United Mortgage Trust (“UMT”), United Development Funding II (“UDF II”), and United Development Funding III (“UDF III”).”  These allegations also included “aiding and abetting fraud, aiding and abetting breach of fiduciary duty, civil conspiracy, civil RICO, civil RICO conspiracy, and negligent supervision.” Filed on 6/7/2017, the arbitration was completed on 11/8/2018, awarding a total of $963,836.00 to the claimants.

Following this award, Wadsworth failed to respond to an information request from FINRA, causing a suspension on 8/3/2018. She did not request her suspension to be terminated, and is now barred from any association in any capacity with any FINRA member.

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Abern-Barred-by-FINRA-for-Failing-to-Cooperate-200x300Steven Pagartanis (CRD #1958879) was employed by Lombard Securities Inc. from September 2017 through March 2018. Previous employment included Cadaretm Grant & Co, Inc. from September 2012 to March 2017 and Woodbury Financial Services, Inc. from August 2011 to September 2012.

Pagartanis was barred from association with any FINRA member in all capacities. Without admitting or denying the findings, Pagartanis consented to the sanction and to the entry of findings that he refused to appear for FINRA on-the-record testimony in connection with an investigation of allegations that he made fraudulent misrepresentation to customers and misappropriated customers’ funds.

Contact Our Firm if You’ve Invested with Steven Pagartanis

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Silver Law Group is investigating claims against former Boston, Massachusetts-based Morgan Stanley brokers James Polese (CRD# 2636427) and Cornelius Peterson (CRD# 5769919) after FINRA barred both of them for allegedly stealing $450,000 from an elderly client.

Both Boston, Massachusetts brokers were charged by the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) in January 2018 and agreed to plead guilty to the charges conspiracy, advisor fraud and bank fraud.

The SEC alleges in its complaint that Polese and Peterson misappropriated money from their Morgan Stanley customers starting in 2014. According to the SEC, Polese and Peterson fraudulently misappropriated $350,000 in March 2016 from an elderly customer. Polese and Peterson used a portion of the money to make investments in their own names, and directed a larger portion to Polese’s personal bank account. Then, according to the SEC, from March through May 2017, Polese made numerous unauthorized transactions from the same elderly customer’s account totaling approximately $93,000 to pay Polese’s credit card and college tuition expenses for Polese’s children.

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Senior Citizens in Florida Reportedly Scammed into Investing in Fake Fish Farm on silverlaw.comSeveral older investors reportedly fell victim to the scam, including a former police officer

From 2013 to 2014, several senior citizens living in South Florida invested over $400,000 in Blue Ocean Farm, a fish farm company. Three purported financial professionals reportedly solicited funds for the farm – Rebecca Gonzalez and Matthew Braun of Boca Raton and Michael Creamer of St. Petersburg. There was just one problem: the Florida Department of Law Enforcement says that the company was completely bogus.

The scheme was allegedly spearheaded by Gonzalez, and now she, Braun, and Creamer are facing several charges, including fraud, selling unregistered securities, and the sale of securities by an unregistered person. The trio reportedly targeted six older investors, all of which handed over thousands of dollars.

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South-Florida-Broker-Brian-Michael-Berger-Permanently-Barred-by-FINRA-1024x683-300x200Former UBS broker John Maccoll (CRD #839441) has been indefinitely barred from affiliation with any FINRA member in any capacity as of 07/02/2018.

His most recent employer was UBS Financial Services Inc. (CRD #8174) of Birmingham, MI. Previously, he was employed with Morgan Stanley DW Inc. (CRD #7556) of Purchase, NY, E. F. Hutto n & Company Inc. (CRD #235), Loeb Partners (CRD #7534) and Hornblower, Weeks, Noyes & Trask Incorporated (CRD #7394). No current employment information is available. Maccoll has been in the industry since 1977.

On 3/15/2018, UBS discharged Maccoll after he refused to cooperate with the firm’s investigation into allegations he misappropriated money from a client. He later disclosed that he had misappropriated money from a total of 13 clients.

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Here’s what you need to do now

Elder financial fraud continues to be a lucrative scheme in America, which is why seniors and their loved ones always need to keep their guard up. We have previously discussed how to spot fraud and what some financial institutions are doing to prevent it, and this piece serves as a guide on what to do about the fraud that has occurred.

Victims, their family members, or caregivers should follow these steps to help limit the damage:

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Christopher Lee Hibbard (CRD #3176484) is a previously registered broker and investment advisor who has been barred from association with any FINRA-associated broker. His most recent employer was Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated (CRD #7691) of Louisville, KY, from 07/16/2010 through 01/26/2018. His previous employers include Morgan Keegan & Company, Inc. (CRD #4161), also of Louisville, and A. G. Edwards & Sons, Inc. (CRD #4) of St. Louis, MO.  He has been in the industry since 1999.

Hibbard was discharged from Merrill Lynch on 01/08/2018, after allegations of “unauthorized transactions and theft.”  His registration was officially terminated on 01/26/2018. As a result, FINRA conducted an inquiry and requested information from him, to which Hibbard failed to respond. As of 05/10/2018, FINRA permanently barred Hibbard from associating with any FINRA member in any capacity.

Additionally, the US Attorney’s Office in the Western District of Kentucky is investigating allegations of Hibbard’s unauthorized use of client funds during his tenure at Merrill, Lynch.

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John Greg Schmidt (CRD #708094) is a former registered stockbroker and investment advisor whose last known employer was Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network, LLC (CRD #11025) in Dayton, OH. He is also known as “Greg Schmidt” or “John Gregory Schmidt.”

His previous employers include Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Incorporated (CRD #793), also of Dayton, OH; First Union Securities, Inc. (CRD #19616) of St. Louis, MO; and First Union Capital Markets Corp. (CRD #6124) of Charlotte, NC. Schmidt began his industry career in 1980, but is not currently registered with any FINRA broker.

Schmidt is currently the subject of several disclosures:

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Kimberly Pine Kitts (CRD #2768200) is a previously registered broker and investment advisor, last employed with Royal Alliance Associates Inc., (CRD #23131) from 2004 through 2017. In the industry since 1993, she was previously employed with ING Financial Partners, Inc. (CRD #2882) in Des Moines, IA, and Forum Fund Services, LLC (CRD #46106) in Portland, ME, among others.

Kitts was discharged from Royal Alliance on 11/15/2017 when the firm received a letter from the attorney of one of her clients. This letter alleged “conversion or misappropriation of funds” on Kitts’ part.

On 12/8/2017, FINRA requested information from Kitts regarding her termination from Royal Alliance. She failed to respond to the request, and was suspended for three months. When she failed to request her suspension to be ended, FINRA permanently barred Kitts, effective 03/12/2018. Kitts is not allowed to have any association with any FINRA member in any capacity.

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Marcus Parker was barred from association with any FINRA member in all capacities. Without admitting or denying the findings, Parker consented to the sanction and to the entry of findings that he refused to respond to FINRA’s requests for documents and information in connection with its investigation of Parker’s termination from his member firm. The findings stated that according to the firm’s Uniform Termination Notice for Securities Industry Registration (Form U5) filing, it terminated Parker’s registration for his failure to appear for an interview and be questioned about misappropriations from client accounts.

Contact Our Firm if You’ve Invested with Marcus Parker

If you invested with Marcus Parker or Wells Fargo and believe you have lost money due to his misconduct, you may be able to file a claim to recover your losses through FINRA arbitration. For a free evaluation of your potential case by as securities attorney, please contact Silver Law Group.  FINRA or securities arbitration can be a fast way to recover investment losses.

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