Articles Tagged with Ameriprise Financial

Stoltmann Law Offices, a boutique securities, investment, and consumer fraud law firm in Chicago, has represented victims of fraud and Ponzi schemes since 2005, recovering tens of millions of dollars for out clients and restoring their financial security and freedom.  On September 9, 2022, it was reported that an Ameriprise financial advisor, Dusty Lynn Sternadel, was barred from the securities industry by FINRA for failing to cooperate with FINRA’s requests for information in connection with an investigation launched by the regulator.  The investigation stemmed from a regulatory filing made by Ameriprise wherein it stated it had terminated Sternadel for cause “for violation of company policies for misappropriation of client funds.”

The FINRA investigation into Sternadel did not get very far because she refused to cooperate with the regulator.  When financial advisors fail to cooperate with a FINRA investigation, FINRA Rule 8210 provides FINRA with the authority to essentially end the advisor’s career. The penalty for not cooperating with the regulatory investigation is harsh and brokers like Sternadel know this, yet she chose to take the lifetime ban instead of cooperate.  The FINRA AWC states that FINRA sent Sternadel a request to testify and produce documents, and that on August 30, 2022, during a phone call, Sternadel stated she would not cooperate or appear and understood the penalty for her refusal.

The Ameriprise disclosure regarding her termination is very vague, yet combined with the FINREA action, is disconcerting. According to the Ameriprise filing, Sternadel was terminated for cause for misappropriating (converting) client funds. Neither the Ameriprise termination notice nor the FINRA AWC state how much money was allegedly misappropriated or from how many Ameriprise customers. There are no customer complaints disclosed yet on Sternadel’s FINRA  Broker/Check Report.

Chicago-based Stoltmann Law Offices has represented investors who’ve suffered losses from broker-advisors who’ve sold their clients money-losing hedge fund investments. Often a broker’s pitch is almost entirely focused on high potential returns with little attention paid to the risk of losing money. Such was the case when brokers sold a hedge fund managed by Prophecy Asset Management. The investment firm was “supposed to spread out funds to dozens of separate money managers, but instead concentrated the money with a single Florida manager whose performance tanked when the pandemic threw markets into turmoil early last year,” according to Indianapolis Business Journal (IBJ).

Two funds managed by Prophecy ran aground last spring when news of the COVID pandemic roiled world markets. The two funds then suspended redemptions, which prevented investors from withdrawing their money. Brokers who sold Prophecy funds, led by a company called Indie Asset Partners, are now suing Prophecy.

The plaintiffs say in the suit that Prophecy CEO Jeffrey Spotts told them that “ostensibly due to the market volatility surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, the Trading Advisors Fund’s assets in their entirety—totaling approximately $363 million—have been placed at risk,” adds the IBJ. Spotts, who cofounded Prophecy Asset Management in 2001 after spending 12 years at Merrill Lynch, declined to comment to IBJ. Prophecy, which listed $561 million in assets under management in a February 2020 regulatory filing, shuttered its website recently.

Chicago-based Stoltmann Law Offices  represents investors who’ve suffered losses from dealing with unscrupulous investment brokers. On April 28, 2020, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) Department of Enforcement filed a complaint against an ex-Ameriprise representative, alleging he converted more than $42,000 of an elderly client’s funds for his own use. Sean Michael Refsnider, of Haddon Heights, New Jersey, was a representative at Ameriprise from 2012 until Aug. 20, 2019. The company stated he was fired after it concluded that his client’s funds were “misappropriated.” FINRA is the chief U.S. regulator of broker dealers.

According to the FINRA complaint, Refsnider allegedly “procured a check from `Customer A’ in the amount of $20,000 and then used the funds to pay his mortgage and other personal expenses.” Refsnider allegedly also had used a debit card linked to the client’s account to make purchases totaling about $17,317, in addition to $4,300 in cash withdrawals, the complaint said. Ameriprise said in a statement that it “quickly detected and stopped the activity, ensured the client was fully reimbursed, terminated the advisor and notified the proper authorities.”

In the past, Ameriprise has been cited by regulators for failure to protect customer assets. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) fined Ameriprise $4.5 million in 2018 to settle charges “that it failed to safeguard retail investor assets from theft by its representatives.” According to the SEC’s order, five Ameriprise representatives “committed numerous fraudulent acts, including forging client documents, and stole more than $1 million in retail client funds over a four-year period.” The SEC also found that Ameriprise, a registered investment adviser and broker-dealer, “failed to adopt and implement policies and procedures reasonably designed to safeguard investor assets against misappropriation by its representatives.” The five Ameriprise representatives were based in Minnesota, Ohio, and Virginia, and three previously pled guilty to criminal charges. Each of the representatives was terminated by Ameriprise for misappropriating client funds and barred from selling securities by FINRA.

AdobeStock_35532974-1-300x200Former Ameriprise financial advisor Jim Seol, was barred from the industry by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) for allegedly participating in private securities transactions, engaging in undisclosed outside business activities and for making misrepresentations to Ameriprise in questionnaires. FINRA found that Seol did not disclose the activity of promoting EB-5 investments through his private business, Western Regional Center Inc. (WRCI) after selling $100 million in the product. The EB-5 program permits foreign investors to obtain a U.S. visa in exchange for investing in products that create U.S. jobs. Allegedly, Seol formed WRCI to market investments to overseas investors through this program. He then allegedly traveled to South Korea and China to market his investments to foreigners, namely a solar power energy plant in Riverside, California. He concealed this activity from Ameriprise from 2012 until 2014.
Seol was registered with IDS Life Insurance Company in Minneapolis, Minnesota from June 1997 until July 2006, and Ameriprise in Irvine, California from June 1997 until June 2014. He has five customer disputes against him and is currently not registered within the industry. Please call our securities law firm today if you suffered losses with Mr. Seol. We are based in Chicago and may be able to help you recover your losses on a contingency fee basis, which means we only make money if you recover yours. The call is free with no obligation.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) recently fined Ameriprise Financial Services Inc. $850,000 for failing to detect the conversion of more than $370,000 from five customer brokerage accounts by one of its registered representatives. Ameriprise was accused of failing to adequately investigate red flags associated with nine third-party wire requests, including that the funds were being transmitted to a business bank account associated with one of Ameriprise’s representatives. This went on for two years before the misconduct was discovered. Ameriprise then paid restitution, plus interest and related fees and the representative in question was barred in June 2014.

FINRA found that from October 2011 until September 2013, a registered representative of the firm took more than $370,000 from five Ameriprise customers. The representative then submitted request forms to transfer funds from the customers’ brokerage accounts into the business bank account of the office in which he worked, allegedly for the intended purpose of making investments. He then took funds from that account in order to pay himself additional salary and commissions. This against securities rules and regulation, and, because Ameriprise allowed the transgressions to take place, the firm may be responsible for losses. If you experienced investment losses with Ameriprise Financial, please call our law firm in Chicago at 312-332-4200 today to speak with an attorney about your options. The call is free with no obligation. We sue firms such as Ameriprise in the FINRA arbitration process on a contingency fee basis, which means we don’t make money unless you recover yours.

Did you or someone you know lose money with William Wesley Marshall, a broker with Ameriprise Financial? If so, the attorneys at Stoltmann Law Offices are interested in speaking with you about your options of bringing a claim against Ameriprise in the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) arbitration forum. We may be able to help you recover your investment losses you suffered with William Wesley Marshall. We take cases on a contingency fee basis for investors, so we only get paid if you recover money. Please call today. The call is free with no obligation.

Mr. Marshall was fined $10,000 and suspended for 15 months by FINRA. FINRA alleged that Mr. Marshall participated in the sale of $1.72 million of privately-issued stock without having provided prior written notice to his firm. He also allegedly engaged in and made an inaccurate assessment of his outside business activity, used a personal email account to communicate with customers, which, in turn, allowed him to avoid firm supervision, and distributed to investors sales literature which contained misleading, exaggerated and inadequate risk disclosures. These are all against securities rules and regulations.

Marshall was registered with May Financial Corporation in Dallas, Texas from October 1999 until December 2001 and Southwest Securities in Dallas from January 2002 until February 2011. He is currently registered with Ameriprise Financial in Plano, Texas and has been since January 2011. According to his online FINRA BrokerCheck report, he is currently suspended by FINRA.

Recently, Gerard A. Fagnant, a former registered representative with LPL Financial, entered into a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent (AWC) with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). The AWC claimed that Fagnant improperly sold promissory notes to two customers of the firm for a total amount of $325,000. He was also accused of providing false information in response to LPL compliance questions. The AWC also stated that Fagnant orchestrated the liquidation of $281,203 of securities in the customers’ accounts. The customers also allegedly loaned Fagnant $325,000 in exchange for a promissory note providing a return of three percent per month for 24 months. These are against securities rules and regulations. For this, FINRA barred him from the industry permanently.

Fagnant was registered with IDS Life Insurance Company in Minneapolis, Minnesota from October 1988 until July 2006, Ameriprise Financial in Leominster, Massachusetts from October 1988 until November 2011 and LPL Financial in Leominster from November 2011 until April 2015. He has two customer disputes against him, one of which is currently pending. He is not licensed within the industry and he has been permanently barred. Please call us today if you would like to speak to an attorney about your options of suing LPL in the FINRA arbitration process. We take cases on a contingency fee basis only. The call is free and there is no obligation. Time is of the essence with these cases so please call today. 312-332-4200.

Gerard-Fagnant-FINRA-AWC

If you are interested in suing Ameriprise Financial in a class actions lawsuit, the attorneys at Stoltmann Law Offices may be able to help. Every year, Ameriprise gets sued dozens of times in class actions lawsuits, for various violations of state and federal securities laws. Ameriprise, like most other brokerage firms, has a binding arbitration clause in every new account agreement that means that for most claims, if you would like to sue Ameriprise, it must be done through the binding arbitration process, and not in the class action process. There are some avenues through which the brokerage firm can be sued in a class action lawsuit. For example, securities fraud issues where Ameriprise is the underwriter.  If you would like to file a class action lawsuit claim against Ameriprise, please call us at 312-332-4200 today.

In an article by Susan Antilla entitled “Here’s Why You Should Carefully Read Your Brokerage Statements in Down Markets” in the “The Street,” she advises investors to look closely at the fine print in investment firms’ clauses that “guarantee” investors’ money back if their accounts get hacked. Charles Schwab’s “Security Guarantee,” TD Ameritrade’s “Asset Protection Guarantee,” and Ameriprise Financial and Scottrade’s “Online Security Guarantee” are all examples of the promises brokerage firms make to an investor in the event his account gets hacked. Antilla warns that these “guarantees” really only solidify reimbursement if the investor himself has been vigilant regarding his own security. Some examples are:

Did you share your password with someone who wound up stealing your money? Your broker will consider that a transaction that you authorized — a reasonable policy considering that you gave away the keys to your account.

Do you regularly check your account for unauthorized transactions? Fidelity, Scottrade, TD Ameritrade, Ameriprise and Merrill Lynch expect you to review all the information they send in the mail or check your online account frequently for activity that doesn’t look familiar. (In the recent market volatility, some advisers and journalists were urging investors not to look at their statements. Ignore that dangerous advice).

Stoltmann Law Offices is investigating Adamson Wright for 249 mismarked order tickets he allegedly effected as being “unsolicited” when the trades were actually solicited. This occurred between May 2010 and February 2011. Also, Wright allegedly used unauthorized discretionary trading and made unsuitable investment recommendations. Two clients alleged an unsuitable purchase of China Agritech. Wright was working at Ameriprise Financial at the time of the alleged inquiries. He worked for Smith Barney Inc. in New York from September 1995 until July 1998, UBS Financial Services in Greensboro, North Carolina from July 1998 until January 2010, and Ameriprise Financial in High Point, North Carolina from January 2010 until June 2011. He is currently registered with Intercarolina Financial Services in Greensboro, North Carolina and has been since August 2011. He has five customer disputes against him. Ameriprise Financial can be sued for their inability to supervise Wright while he worked for them. Please call us at 312-332-4200 to speak to an attorney. We are securities attorneys who focus on recovering money for retail investors.

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