Articles Tagged with conversion

Chicago-based Stoltmann Law Offices is representing investors who’ve suffered losses from dealing with broker-advisors who’ve robbed their accounts. There’s no shortage of incidents where brokers have taken advantage of older Americans to “churn” or over-trade their accounts to generate commissions. In many cases, their clients may be unaware of the abuses or unknowingly granted power of attorney to facilitate broker theft of customer funds. Other times, brokers go rogue and flat out steal from their clients.  That is the unfortunate reality for Totowa, New Jersey-based PFS Investments financial advisor Jeffrey Dampf.

FINRA, the federal securities regulator, has barred ex-Primerica/PFS broker Jeffrey Dampf, who had joined the firm in 2009, according to “On Oct. 30, 2020, Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that Dampf, then 69, of Brick Township, New Jersey, was charged with attempted theft and conspiracy to commit theft. Meanwhile, Robert Tindall, then 46, and Leanna Guido, then 47, both of Toms River, New Jersey, were charged with theft for their roles in the same scheme.” An investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office “revealed that Dampf, in his capacity as the power of attorney and accountant for two senior siblings, was misappropriating funds entrusted to him while caring for the two older clients,” according to Billhimer.

Dampf “allegedly attempted to electronically transfer $500,000 to an investment account from the victims’ bank account for his own benefit. The transfer was ‘flagged,’ however, and the money was not transferred from the victims’ account,” according to Billhimer. “Tindall and Guido received funds they were not entitled to in an amount exceeding $1.5 million” from the victims, Billhimer said. “The funds were allegedly misappropriated through check or electronic transfer executed by Dampf and drafted to appear as though they were legitimate reimbursements for money spent on the care and for the benefit of the clients.”

Chicago-based Stoltmann Law Offices is investigating regulatory filings establishing that former Fifth Third and Merrill Lynch financial advisor David S. Wells has accepted a permanent bar from the securities industry. According to a publicly filed Acceptance, Waiver, and Consent (AWC) filed with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Wells accepted the lifetime ban in lieu of appearing for or providing information to FINRA pursuant to FINRA Rule 8210. Wells did not admit to any misconduct. He chose to accept a lifetime bar from the securities industry instead of sitting for an OTR (on the record) interview, answer questions, or provide information to FINRA.

According to David Wells’s FINRA broker/check report, he “resigned” from Fifth Third Securities on June 30, 2021 after admitting he misappropriated funds from three clients. There is no other information available publicly about how much Wells stole or whether he refunded the victims. One fact is certain: his registration with Fifth Third Securities gives victims a change to recover those stolen funds. As a a matter of law, Fifth Third Securities is responsible for the conduct of their agents, like David Wells. Fifth Third had a duty to supervise Wells, his office, his client accounts, and to exercise supervisory authority over Wells to prevent violations of securities rules and regulations. These supervision rules and regulations are a critical part of the securities industry regulatory system and brokerage firms like Merrill Lynch and Fifth Third Securities can be held liable for damages for failing to properly supervise financial advisors like David Wells.

FINRA wields mighty authority over the registered representatives they license under Rule 8210. When FINRA comes calling for information in connection with an investigation under FINRA Rule 8210, financial advisors have two options. 1) They can cooperate fully with FINRA’s investigation or 2) they can voluntarily accept a lifetime bar. It would seem obvious why a financial advisor would accept the life time bar – they do not want to provide FINRA with any information because FINRA is on to something.  Its not quite that simple however. Complying with and responding to a FINRA Rule 8210 request can be difficult and if done without counsel is not advisable. If the registered representative is not being supported by his brokerage firm, it can be a terrifying experience.

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.

Stoltmann Law Offices is investigating Gerald Cipolla, a former registered adviser with PFS Investments in Rego Park, New York. Cipolla was barred by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) after failing to respond to an investigation. FINRA was investigating him regarding allegations of potential conversion of 4,000 shares of stock in an IPO using funds from co-workers; complaints from customers making allegations of unsuitable investment recommendations and his potential failure to disclose certain financial events to his broker-dealer. These are against securities rules and regulations.

Cipolla was registered with PFS Investments in Rego Park, New York from May 1993 until August 2015. He has two customer disputes against him and seven judgments/liens. He is not licensed within the industry and has been permanently barred. Please call our securities law firm in Chicago to speak to an attorney about your options of suing Gerald Cipolla in the FINRA arbitration process to recover your losses. The call to us is free with no obligation. We take cases on a contingency fee basis only.

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.

Customers of Raymond James can sue the firm for investment losses sustained through activities like unsuitable investment recommendations, fraud, churning, conversion or theft and other related actions.  A common claim against Raymond James made in FINRA arbitration actions deals with the firms supervision, or lack thereof, of the financial advisor who engaged in the wrongful conduct.  In these cases, what the firm did, or didnt do, is absolutely crucial.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) announced yesterday that it fined Raymond James & Associates and Raymond James Financial Services, Inc. $17 million for widespread failures related to the firms’ anti-money laundering programs. Both firms were accused of failing to establish and implement adequate anti-money laundering procedures, which resulted in the firms’ failure to properly prevent or detect, investigate, and report suspicious activity for several years. Raymond James and Associates’ Compliance Officer, Linda L. Busby, was also fined $25,000 and suspended for three months.

Between 2006 and 2014, both companies’ growth was not matched by the growth in their compliance systems and processes. This was because they were forced to rely on written procedures and systems across different departments to detect suspicious activity. The end result was that certain “red flags” of potentially suspicious activity went undetected or inadequately investigated. Raymond James Financial Services Inc. was sanctioned in 2012 for inadequate anti-money laundering procedures, and as part of that program, had agreed to review its program and procedures, and certify that they were reasonably designed to achieve compliance.

Stoltmann Law Offices is investigating Jorge Gonzalez, a former broker with Wells Fargo advisors. Gonzalez was also a branch manager at Wells Fargo. He recently entered into a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent (AWC) with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). He was accused of participating in a conversion of funds from a bank customer account that was previously opened in contravention of the bank’s policies and funded with a check that was later connected to a fraudulent tax-return filing. This is against securities rules and regulations. For this he was barred from the securities industry. Please call us today for a free consultation with an attorney. We may be able to help you recover your losses in the arbitration forum.

Illinois investment fraud attorney Andrew Stoltmann was announced as a 2016 Super Lawyer this month.  The distinction is given to less than 5% of the lawyer in Illinois. Stoltmann was voted as a Super Lawyer in the securities litigation category.  Stoltmann represents investors in FINRA arbitration claims and lawsuits for fraud, unsuitable investment recommendations, churning, theft and conversion claims on a contingency fee basis.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) announced today that it fined Fidelity Brokerage Services $500,000 and ordered the firm to pay $530,000 in restitution for failing to detect or prevent the theft of more than $1 million from nine of its customers, eight of whom were senior citizens. A woman, Lisa Lewis, posed as a Fidelity broker in order to obtain her victim’s personal information and subsequently stole customer assets through numerous transfers and debit-card transactions. FINRA found the Lewis operated a conversion scheme from August 2006 until May 2013. Lewis allegedly targeted former customers from another brokerage firm from which she had been fired. She told the investors that she was a Fidelity broker and established joint accounts with her victims in which she was listed as an owner. She opened more than 50 separate accounts and converted assets from many of these accounts to her own and used the money for herself. Lewis pleaded guilty to wire fraud and was sentenced to 15 years in prison. She was also ordered to pay her victims more than $2 million in restitution.

FINRA found that Fidelity failed to detect or follow-up on various “red flags” related to Lewis’ scheme. FINRA also found that inadequate supervisory systems and procedures contributed to the failure to detect and prevent Lewis’ fraudulent activities. Fidelity failed to adequately review and investigate many of the reports concerning Lewis. If you invested money with Lisa Lewis, please contact our securities law firm in Chicago to speak with one of our attorneys. The call is free with no obligation. You may be able to bring a claim against Fidelity for supervisory failures.

Stoltmann Law Offices is investigating Peter Dourdas, a former broker with Questar Capital Corp. Dourdas is accused of theft and conversion of funds, as well as unauthorized business activity. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) filed a complaint against him seeking to bar him from the securities industry. Dourdas was registered with MML Investors Services in Springfield, Massachusetts from August 2001 until December 2004, USAllianz Securities in Syracuse, New York from December 2004 until December 2006 and Questar Capital Corporation in Syracuse from December 2006 until September 2013. He has two customer disputes against him. He is not currently registered with any member firm nor is he licensed within the industry. If you invested money with Peter Dourdas, you can call our Chicago-based securities law office at 312-332-4200 for a free consultation with an attorney. We may be able to help you sue Questar Capital Corp for investment losses. They had a duty to reasonably supervise him while he was employed there.

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