Chicago-based Stoltmann Law Offices has represented investors who’ve suffered losses from dealing with broker-advisors who’ve stolen their money. Sometimes brokers are not the least bit subtle about what they do with clients’ assets. They may shift cash into separate accounts and spend it themselves. Such was the case with Apostolos Pitsironis, a former Janney Montgomery Scott advisor. He is accused of stealing more than $400,000 from his clients from 2018-2019.
In the brokerage business, stealing clients’ funds is often known as “converting” their assets. Brokers may spend the money on gambling, cars or other consumption items. Pitsironis was “discharged in June 2019 after an internal investigation uncovered that the FA transferred funds via unauthorized ACHs from a client’s account to a third-party bank account owned and controlled by Pitsironis,” according to ThinkAdvisor.com. “He later used this money to pay his family’s personal expenses, all the while deceiving both his victims and the financial services firm for whom he worked,” prosecutors stated. Pitsironis also allegedly spent his clients’ money on casino gambling debts, credit card bills and the lease of a luxury car.
“Janney is committed to serving our clients with the utmost integrity and trust,” the brokerage firm said in a statement obtained by ThinkAdvisor. “Upon discovering the improper actions taken by this advisor with one client account, he was promptly terminated, and the client was fully reimbursed. Janney has fully cooperated with law enforcement and will continue to do so.”
Pitsironis signed a FINRA letter of acceptance, waiver and consent Aug. 28, 2019, in which he agreed to be barred from the industry for converting $411,000 in client funds without admitting nor denying the charges. FINRA accepted the letter Sept. 9, 2019. He is also charged with fraud by federal prosecutors. If convicted, Pitsironis faces up to 20 years in prison.
Have you invested with brokers who have fleeced you, invested your money in high-risk investments or not honestly reported their performance? FINRA and the SEC have strict rules on disclosing risk profiles on all investments sold by brokers and investment advisers. If they fail to fully inform you of downside risk, you may have a case in arbitration.
How can you tell if your broker is dishonest about use of your funds? There are some telltale signs: 1) Your adviser commingles or adds his name to the title of your investment account; 2) They obtain “unrestricted authority to use the funds at their discretion;” 3) You notice numerous trades in your account without any notable increase in value (churning); 4) If they sell you an investment that offers you a high return with low risk — and you instead see your returns are staying pretty flat; or, 5) They obtain a power of attorney from you to make decisions involving your investments.
If you invested with a broker-advisor and lost money as a result, you may have a claim to pursue through FINRA Arbitration. Please contact Stoltmann Law Offices, P.C. at 312-332-4200 for a free, no obligation consultation with a securities attorney. Stoltmann Law Offices is a contingency fee law firm which means we do not get paid until you do!