The financial advisor’s alleged financial stress stemmed from gambling losses that exceeded his annual income.
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) is currently investigating former St. Louis, MO- and Oklahoma-based broker Austin Wayne Morton after his dismissal from his member firm, Edward Jones, under suspicion of elder fraud.
According to FINRA, in September 2016, Morton allegedly accompanied his 82-year-old former client diagnosed with dementia to the bank to assist him in withdrawing over $20,000 in cash. Morton then allegedly left with $20,000 of the client’s money. The following month, the elderly client reportedly agreed to provide Morton with a loan for $6,000 to pay for medical expenses. The medical expenses, however, were never actually incurred.
In addition, while accepting the loan, Morton reportedly took a signed blank check from the elderly client and cashed it in the amount of $22,000, not the $6,000 as agreed. In effect, Morton allegedly converted an additional $16,000 not authorized by the client.
In its disciplinary action report, the FINRA investigation discloses the following:
- Morton began working with Edward Jones in St. Louis, MO in 2011
- In November 2016, Morton’s book of business held approximately $35 million in assets
- From January to November 2016, Morton’s commission and fees from Edward Jones equaled approximately $107,000
- During the ten months from January to October 2016, Morton’s bank account was overdrawn seven of those ten months
- Morton incurred overdraft fees of over $1,000 during that same time period
- Morton gambled extensively – with losses in online and on-track horse racing betting exceeding his income from Edward Jones
- In 2016, Morton incurred losses close to $130,000
While accepting a loan from an elderly investor is enough to land Morton in hot water with FINRA, it is also alleged that Morton accepted payment from the same elderly client in exchange for helping to locate an annuity secured with another financial institution. By not notifying Edward Jones of this outside business activity and payment for services, Morton is reported to have violated both member firm and FINRA rules and regulations.
The FINRA investigation into Morton’s alleged activities is currently pending.
If you or a loved one feel they have been the victim of elder financial fraud or financial abuse at the hands of Austin Wayne Morton or any other broker or financial advisor, it is important for you to know you have rights.
FINRA helps senior investors protect themselves by providing a toll-free Securities Helpline for Seniors. This helpline provides older investors with information on their investments and brokerage accounts, including assistance reading statements and understanding transactions. The helpline number is 844-574-3577.
In addition to the helpline, FINRA also provides information regarding brokers and advisors through BrokerCheck.FINRA.org. Information provided through BrokerCheck includes broker and advisor compliance records and any disciplinary actions. It is a valuable source of information if you are considering engaging a new financial broker or advisor, or checking up on a current advisor.
Silver Law Group’s attorneys are frequent lecturers at retirement communities, town meetings, pension groups, and other places, discussing proactive measures to avoid being victims of investment fraud. We would be happy to speak to your group, free of charge, about what the members of the group can do to protect themselves.
We never charge for a consultation and we are happy to talk privately with someone about his or her personal financial situation. In addition, we work on contingency for our clients, so we are not paid unless we recover funds. Contact us today for more information.