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Investment Center Broker Accused of Stealing $300K from Elderly Client on silverlaw.comLeon Vaccarelli allegedly defrauded a total of nine clients out of more than $1 million

In May, former financial advisor Leon Vaccarelli was charged with 12 counts of fraud and money laundering in a federal court in Connecticut. If convicted on all of them, he could receive a maximum penalty of 210 years in prison. After pleading not guilty, Vaccarelli was released on a $100,000 bond.

Vaccarelli is alleged to have stolen money from several clients between 2011 and 2017. During that time, he reportedly informed his clients that their money would be invested in different places, including money market accounts and retirement products. What Vaccarelli actually did, according to investigators, was put the money into his own account and use it to pay his own expenses. In addition, federal prosecutors also say that he also used client money to make interest payments to other investors.

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National Securities Corporation: Frequent Customer Disputes with FINRA on silverlaw.comHow the company has violated or been accused of violating FINRA regulations

It is always important for investors to have a good understanding of the financial professionals they work with. Before handing over money to anyone, brokers should be vetted properly. This is why the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) created its BrokerCheck reports.

Not only do these provide good information on where brokers are licensed and their work histories, but they also reveal customer disputes, discharges, and alleged improper activity. But these reports don’t just cover brokers – they also include their member firms.

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Some of National Securities Corporation’s FINRA-Reported Brokers on silverlaw.comThese four brokers have been accused of numerous infractions

National Securities Corporation has been operating for decades and has offices and brokers all over the U.S. Unfortunately, however, a significant percentage of their brokers have been involved in numerous customer complaints. Here are just a few examples of how National Securities employees have allegedly violated FINRA rules:

James Eichner

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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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Securities Arbitration Claims Against National Securities Corp. on silverlaw.comAccording to some reports, nearly 1/3 of National Securities brokers have had regulatory issues, legal disputes, or personal financial problems that have been disclosed to investors

National Securities Corporation is one of the oldest financial firms in the U.S., dating back over 70 years. Its the main office is in Seattle, Washington, but the company has licenses to operate in every state in the country, as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

National Securities Corporation is registered with the SEC and three self-regulatory organizations: Nasdaq, Cboe BZX Exchanged, Inc., and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) – and it is with the latter agency that the company has come under intense scrutiny over the last couple of decades.

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SEC Charges Texas Pastor and Former Louisiana Broker with Money Laundering and Wire Fraud on silverlaw.comThe elder financial fraud allegations reportedly cost elderly investors over $1M of retirement savings

Once a prominent Methodist pastor in Houston, Texas, Kirbyjon Caldwell is now charged by the SEC with numerous counts of money laundering and wire fraud. The charges are directly related to a scheme Caldwell and his partner, Gregory Alan Smith – a self-proclaimed financial advisor who was also charged – allegedly used to defraud elderly investors by selling them an interest in defunct, pre-Revolutionary Chinese bonds.

It is alleged that in 2013 and 2014, Caldwell and Smith singled out vulnerable investors to invest in bonds that had no more value than being collectible memorabilia – promising instead that they were worth millions.

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James J. Mariani (CRD #2932631) is a currently registered broker with Aegis Capital Corp. (CRD #15007) of Bayside, New York. He has been with Aegis for less than one year. His previous employers include:

  • National Securities Corporation (CRD #7569) of Mineola, NY
  • First Montauk Securities Corp. (CRD #13755) of Port Washington, NY
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Silver Law Group is investigating investor claims for possible securities laws violations of LJM Preservation and Growth Fund (Stock Symbol: LJMIX).

The LJM Preservation and Growth Fund (“LJMIX”) is a mutual fund that is marketed and sold with the investment goal of preserving capital even in down markets.  The mutual fund, allegedly, attempts to preserve its investors’ capital by using put option spreads as a form of mitigation risk.

The once-$800 million fund lost more than 80 percent of its value between February 2-7, 2018. On February 8, 2018, LJMIX announced that it would not be accepting new investments into the mutual fund.  According to a letter published by the mutual fund, LJMIX liquidated all its open positions and the mutual fund currently only holds cash.

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Morgan Stanley Discharges and FINRA Permanently Bars Broker Samuel Wylie Sloane on silverlaw.comFINRA entered into a settlement with Cetera Advisor Networks LLC (CRD# 13572) over improprieties related to mutual sales fund charge waivers.

According to the Acceptance, Waiver and Consent (“AWC’) entered into between Cetera and FINRA, Cetera disadvantaged certain retirement plan and charitable organization customers that were eligible to purchase certain shares in mutual funds without a front-end sales charge.  Instead, Cetera sold these customers shares with front-end or back-end sales charges and higher ongoing fees and expenses.

Cetera did not waive the additional mutual fund sales charge even though customers qualified for it and, according to the AWC, Cetera carried on this conduct between July 2009 and January 2017.

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With Puerto Rico’s credit issues and default taking front and center in the media, people may not realize that the damage from what is going on is not limited to Puerto Rico but may affect a number of U.S. Mutual Fund Companies.  In fact, the average, small passive investor may not appreciate that the mutual fund he and/or she owns actually holds a significant amount of Puerto Rico debt.  Several municipal bond funds hold a large percentage of Puerto Rico municipal bonds despite the negative publicity and questions that have been raised about Puerto Rico and its ability to meet its obligations.

Here is a sample list of some mutual fund companies holdings a large percentage of Puerto Rican debt:

  • Oppenheimer Rochester Maryland Municipal;
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