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Articles Tagged with elder fraud

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South-Florida-Broker-Brian-Michael-Berger-Permanently-Barred-by-FINRA-300x200-300x200The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc. has barred former Waddell & Reed broker, Robert Lee Basile (CRD #2392772). He faces two years of probation after pleading guilty to embezzlement and theft from an elder.

Basile’s mother opened a brokerage account with Waddell and Reed in 2014, shortly after his son joined the firm. Basile served as the broker for the account, but between January 2015 and October 2017, he allegedly withdrew funds to keep for himself. He used them to pay for his own living expenses without her consent.

Police began an investigation after they received information about elder abuse from adult protective services. The report states that the abuse occurred in Boise, Idaho, where Basile’s mother resides.

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Peter Orlando (CRD #1142715) is a former registered broker, last employed with SCF Securities, Inc. (CRD #47275) of Fall River, MA. Previous employers include MetLife Securities (CRD #14251), Morgan Stanley (CRD #149777 and #8209), and Investors Capital Group (CRD #30613) He has been in the industry since 1983. His current employer and employment status is unknown.

Orlando is the subject of a regulatory disciplinary action involving one of his clients. From August through September of 2014, Orlando allegedly obtained control of the financial affairs of an elderly widow (named “DW” in the complaint.) He became the primary beneficiary and executor of her will, with his wife as the contingent beneficiary. He obtained two powers of attorney (POA), one for health and one known as a “durable POA.”

It is against MetLife’s policies for a representative to become involved in a client’s financial affairs, except in the case of family members. There is no indication that the client was also a family member. In addition to a opening a joint account with Orlando, the client also changed her will, closed two bank accounts in favor of the joint one, and gave him two powers of attorney. Orlando never notified the firm that he was acting as her personal representative in her affairs.

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What they’re doing to fight this ‘silent epidemic’

One in 10. That’s an estimate of how many people 65 and older suffer some form of abuse, be it physical, financial, or otherwise. And it is likely that the numbers are much worse than that, as only about one in 24 cases of elder abuse is ever reported.

Fortunately, efforts are being made to tackle this growing problem. Derek Schmidt, Kansas Attorney General and president of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG), is planning to collaborate with the other 55 AGs around the U.S. The goal will be to share information and figure out ways to stop the abuse.

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New York Broker Stanley Niekras Under Investigation for Elder Fraud on elderfinancialfraudattorneys.com

FINRA allegations include billing elderly clients $70,000 in false fees to make up lost commissions

Former Purshe Kaplan Sterling Investments and MML Investors Services, LLC adviser Stanley Clayton Niekras is under investigation by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) for allegedly taking advantage of elderly clients.

In its complaint, FINRA alleges that Niekras billed two elderly customers more than $70,000 for both estate and financial planning services that he was not entitled to, in addition to the fact that Niekras did not receive his firm’s approval for such billing.

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Emotions Increase Elder Fraud Vulnerability, According to Stanford Research on elderfinancialfraudattorneys.com

A study funded by FINRA and AARP found that anger and excitement have an impact on decision-making

A new Stanford University study funded by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) Investor Education Foundation and AARP’s Fraud Watch Network states that financial fraudsters who evoke strong emotions in their victims can more easily convince older adults to purchase their investments. The study has implications for individuals who want to protect themselves or their loved ones from financial fraud, as well as for those who have been defrauded.

Anger and excitement: Do they increase fraud susceptibility?

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Philip Grasso Jr. Barred by FINRA Due to Allegations of Elder Fraud on silverlaw.com

Broker misconduct results in “substantial harm’ to elderly customers

Philip Leonard Grasso Jr.’s 18-year career in the securities industry is now over due to allegations of elder fraud, where he purportedly misused funds, willfully misrepresented material facts and failed to complete on-the-record testimony requested by FINRA.

According to the FINRA Disciplinary Action, Philip Grasso has been permanently barred from association with any FINRA member in any capacity as of May 2015. There are three causes of action included in the findings.

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The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) announced on April 27th that Avenir Financial Group (“Avenir”), its CEO Michael Clements (“Clements”), and registered representative Karim Ibrahim a/k/a Chris Allen (“Ibrahim”), consented to an order halting further fraudulent sales of equity interests in the firm and promissory notes, pending a hearing on fraud charges related to the same offerings. The sales occurred from October 2013 through April 2015, and were often to elderly customers of the firm. According to FINRA, Avenir sold to several elderly investors including a 92 year-old customer who invested $250,000 for an equity interest in the firm, while Clements and Ibrahim falsely represented how the funds would be used, materially omitting and failing to disclose the firm’s financial difficulties, and thus willfully violated the Securities Exchange Act and FINRA rules. The misrepresentations and omissions that allegedly misled the elderly client included the fact that Avenir was in dire financial condition, as well as that he overpaid for his shares as compared to earlier investors.

Avenir is a New York, NY based full service broker-dealer. According to FINRA, during its 3-year operation as a FINRA member firm, Avenir and its branch offices raised over $730,000 in 16 issuances of equity or promissory notes, and most of the sales of equity and promissory notes were to elderly customers of the firm.

FINRA obtained the Cease and Desist Order based on its concern for ongoing customer harm and depletion of investor assets, prior to completion of a formal disciplinary proceeding against the firm and these individuals. Under FINRA rules, the individuals and firms named in a complaint can file a response and request a hearing before a FINRA disciplinary panel. Possible sanctions include a fine, and order to pay restitution, censure, suspension or bar from the securities industry. The issuance of the disciplinary complaint represents the initiation of a formal proceeding by FINRA, in which findings as to the allegations in the complaint have not been made, and does not represent a decision as to any of the allegations contained in the complaint.

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AlphaBridge Capital Management Charged by SEC for Fraudulent Fund Valuation Scheme By silverlaw.com

Hedge fund firm owners agree to $5 million combined settlement

On June 1, 2015 the Securities and Exchange Commission charged Greenwich, Connecticut-based AlphaBridge Capital Management and its two owners with fraudulently inflating the prices of securities in funds they managed. These inflated valuations caused the funds to pay higher management and performance fees to AlphaBridge.

According to the SEC news release, AlphaBridge Capital Management and its owners – Thomas T. Kutzen and Michael J. Carino – “told investors and its auditor that it obtained independent price quotes from broker-dealers for certain unlisted, thinly-traded residential mortgage-backed securities.” In fact, what the firm did was give “internally-derived valuations to broker-dealers to pass off as their own.”

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Morgan Stanley has found itself on the wrong end of a Florida FINRA arbitration for claimed damages of $400 million. Lynnda Speer, the widow of Home Shopping Network (HSN) co-founder Roy M. Speer, filed the claim against Morgan Stanley and one of its branch managers and investment advisers. Due to its size, the firm acknowledged the claim in a disclosure in its annual financial report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in March.

In addition to being the widow of Mr. Speer, Ms. Speer is the personal representative of his estate. In her claim, filed with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), she alleges excessive trading, negligent supervision, and unjust enrichment. According to a SEC filing, the claims also include that Morgan Stanley and the adviser, working out of Palm Harbor, Florida, engaged in the unauthorized use of discretion and abused their fiduciary duty.

After helping to create the popular HSN, it was estimated by Forbes that Mr. Speer was worth $775 million in 2002. Before passing away in 2012, Mr. Speer suffered from “significant diminished capacity” during the later years of his life. It is alleged that during the final five years of his life, his adviser, Ami Forte, and the firm conducted roughly 12,000 unauthorized trades, which generated around $40 million in commissions. Also named in the suit is the Morgan Stanley branch manager, Terry McCoy.

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A customer of Wells Fargo Advisors filed a FINRA complaint against Wells Fargo to seek the money he lost when his adviser invested his monies in “F-Squared Investments.”  The customer’s claim is that Wells Fargo failed to supervise his adviser properly, and also did not do the required due diligence in the investment that he recommended (F-Squared).  The customer is also seeking lost opportunity damages, which is the money he could have made if his money were invested in an S&P 500 Fund.

The SEC launched an investigation into F-Squared Investments and its co-founder and CEO Howard Present, in 2013.   According to the SEC’s Order of December 2014, F-Squared Investments agreed to pay $35 million and admit wrongdoing to settle charges that it defrauded investors through false advertising about its flagship product (AlphaSector).  The SEC alleged that while marketing AlphaSector into the largest active ETF (“exchange-traded funds”) strategy in the market, F-Squared falsely advertised a successful seven-year track record for the investment strategy based on the actual performance of real investments for real clients.  In reality, the algorithm was not even in existence during the seven years of purported performance success.  The data used in F-Squared’s advertising was actually derived through backtesting, although F-Squared and Howard Present specifically advertised the investment strategy as “not backtested.” Further, the hypothetical data contained a substantial performance calculation error that inflated the results by approximately 350 percent.

According to news reports, the customer in this case is an elderly person who claims that Wells Fargo did not perform due diligence on investments prior to selling them to the public.  Additionally, the customer claims that Wells Fargo failed to properly supervise one of its advisers and recommendations the advisor made to the client, who described himself as a “moderately conservative investor seeking moderately conservative growth”, concerning his investment risk.  The client claims that had Wells Fargo conducted full due diligence on the F-Squared product, it would have discovered red flags, additionally seeing that the ETF-based F-Squared product was not appropriate for a moderately conservative investor.

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