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Articles Posted in Oil & Gas Fraud

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It seemed like a great investment, in natural gas. But like many energy-based investments, there is a considerable volatility involved that’s an uncontrollable variable. In other words, you never know what may happen tomorrow, especially when trading options or using leverage.

Natural gas posted its biggest one-day percentage gain on November 14. The next day, it posted its largest one-day drop in 15 years. According to news stories, OptionSellers.com was betting that natural gas would continue to rise. When it didn’t, everything unraveled, and the company was forced to begin liquidation. Many investors borrowed through margin accounts, some with considerable amounts invested.

Margin-Account-Guidelines-300x200Tampa, FL-based OptionSellers.com was a commodities trading firm that claimed to be experienced in this type of investment. The firm’s president and head trader, James Cordier, told a recent interviewer, “Our goal is to take an aggressive vehicle and manage it conservatively.” Unfortunately, that’s not exactly what happened. Trading “naked” on margin instead of “covered,” the firm left its investors vulnerable to unlimited exposure, leading to the losses. An article explains that “OptionSellers.com and its principals negligently engaged in a risky trading strategy that was unsuitable for its clients and breached its fiduciary duties to them by putting its interests ahead of its clients.”

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Wills Schneider Henriquez (CRD #1872198) is a previously registered broker who was last employed by Network 1 Financial Securities Inc. (CRD #13577) of Brooklyn, NY. His previous employers include Newport Coast Securities, Inc. (CRD #16944), also of Brooklyn, and Legend Securities, Inc., (CRD #44952) of New York, NY. These two firms, along with Success Trade Securities, Inc. (CRD #46027), where Henriquez was previously registered, have been expelled by FINRA. No current employment information is available. He has been in the industry since 1993.

Former Alexander Capital, L.P. Broker Peyton Nelson Jackson is No Longer Registered in the Securities Industry on elderfinancialfraudattorneys.comFINRA suspended Henriquez in all capacities, effective 7/2/2018 through 08/15/2018, and fined him $7,500 for effecting discretionary transactions in multiple customer accounts. These transactions were conducted without written consent from the customers, as well as without written authorization from the firm.

A number of transactions were marked “unsolicited,” when in fact, they were solicited. This caused a compliance issue with Network 1, who now had inaccurate customer transaction records. This activity took place between May 2013 through May 2017. Henriquez also mismarked 32 tickets from March 2016 through March 2017, violating FINRA Rules 4511 and 2010.

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https://www.silverlaw.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Financial-Advisors-Inc.-Accused-of-Converting-Funds-300x202.jpgLaurence Green (CRD #604082) is a formerly registered broker. His last registration was with Herbert J. Sims & Co. Inc. (CRD #3420) of Ellijay, GA, and was with them from 2002 until January of 2018. His previous employers include Ryan, Beck & Co., LLC. (CRD #3248) of Florham Park, NJ, Gruntal & Co., L.L.C. (CRD #372) of New York, NY, and A. F. Best Securities, Inc. (CRD #14335) of Coral Springs, FL.  No current employment information is available. He began in the industry in 1980.

Green is the subject of two current disclosures, both customer disputes that are similar and listed as “pending.” The first was filed on 05/09/2018 by a customer who accuses Green of unsuitability, investing in risky oil and gas securities and churning, causing economic losses. No damages are specified.

The second customer complaint alleges “unsuitable investments, churning, breach of fiduciary and excessive trading” during 2013. In this case, the customer is requesting damages of $375,000.

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New-York-Broker-Gregory-Flemming-Suspended-by-FINRA-300x200Walter M. Stucker (CRD #2197844) is a registered broker and investment advisor, currently registered with Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC (CRD #19616) of Fort Worth, TX. He was previously employed by UBS financial services inc. (CRD #8174) and Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated (CRD #7691), also of Fort Worth. He has been in the industry since 1991.

Stucker is the subject of three disclosures, the most recent filed on 04/08/2018. This customer arbitration claim alleges that he “unsuitably concentrated their portfolio in the energy sector and misrepresented the risks associated with those investments” from 2011 to 2017.  The customer is requesting damages of $600,000. This case is currently pending.

The prior complaint, filed on 12/18/2017, was filed by a client’s attorney alleging “misrepresentation, suitability issues and over concentration in oil and gas limited partnerships” from July 27, 2011 to December 18, 2017. The client requested damages in the amount of $632,907.00; however, this claim was ultimately denied.

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Michael Barnett (CRD #5792242) is a currently registered broker and investment advisor working with J.J.B. Hilliard, W.L. Lyons, LLC of Marion, IL (CRD #453). He has been with Hilliard Lyons since 2012. Previously, Barnett was registered with Edward Jones (CRD #250) of Herrin, IL. He has been in the industry since 2010.

Bahram-Mirhashemi-Facing-Allegations-of-Elder-Financial-Fraud-300x200Barnett has three pending customer complaints in 2018, with the damages requested totaling $133,529.56. Two of these claims involve allegations of over-concentration and losses related to a company called Breitburn Energy (BBEP), and that the company was unsuitable for the clients. Both complaints include allegations of breach of contract and fiduciary duty, violation of Kentucky Consumer Protection Act, Kentucky Blue Sky Law, and the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act. The third 2018 complaint, also pending, allege “breach of fiduciary duty, violation of Illinois’ Securities Act (Section 815 ILCS 5/12 et al.), negligence/negligent misrepresentation/omission, breach of contract, restitution, common law fraud, and negligent supervision.”

In 2017, Barnett had two additional customer complaints. In one case, the client alleges “unauthorized trading in an unsuitable security.”  The second complaint alleges “misrepresentation, unsuitable investments, and unauthorized trading in a single security beginning in 2014 through 2015.” The client has requested damages of $1.5 million.

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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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FINRA-300x202Our firm has won a $1.5 million award against a Texas-based brokerage firm that sold private placements in an oil and gas business venture to our client. The award included a significant million dollars in punitive damages. Silver Law Group continues to represent other investors in failed private placements or Reg D offerings.

Our Client Loses a Significant Amount of Money in an Oil and Gas Private Placement

According to the FINRA statement of claim, a broker of the Texas-based brokerage firm first met with our client and convinced him to fly to Texas for the investment pitch. Our client then met with the CEO of the brokerage firm and pitched the investment to our client. The investment proceeds would allegedly by used to drill oil wells for oil production.  The CEO of the brokerage firm promised great returns on the investment within six months. Our client was convinced and invested approximately $521,000 – almost all of his life savings.

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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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Broker-Ricardo-Broome-Permanently-Barred-From-FINRA-300x200Thomas Murray (CRD #721725) has received a securities arbitration claim according to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) CRD system.

Thomas Murray has been registered with FSC Securities Corporation in Hartsdale, New York since 2009. Previous registrations include Advantage Capital Corporation in Hartsdale, New York (2007-2009; 1983-2007) and First Investors Corporation (1981-1983).

Murray is the subject of a pending customer complaint as shown in his BrokerCheck report relating to the sale of oil and gas investments.

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Former Broker Charles Henry Frieda (CRD #5502319) has been barred after FINRA investigated more than 50 client allegations of improper investments. Frieda’s last employer of record was Wells Fargo Clearing Services (aka Wells Fargo Advisors, CRD #19616) of Irvine, CA, where he was employed from 10/05/2012 through 09/20/2017. Although he was previously registered as a broker and as an investment advisor, he is not currently registered with any broker, and no information is available on any current employer.

His previous employment record includes:

  • Morgan Stanley (CRD #19616) of Brea, CA, from 06/01/2009 through 10/24/2012
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