CMD Investigating Claims Against Elliot Harris and Triad Advisors, Inc. for Unauthorized Trading and Unsuitable Recommendations

Securities law firm Carmel, Milazzo & DiChiara LLP (CMD) is investigating claims against securities broker Elliot Harris and brokerage firm Triad Advisors, Inc. for unsuitable recommendations, unauthorized trading and failure to supervise.  According to Mr. Harris’ FINRA BrokerCheck he has been the subject of at least five (5) customer complaints.

In September 2016, Elliot Harris was barred from association with any FINRA member.  FINRA has alleged that Mr. Harris recommended unsuitable trades and engaged in unauthorized trading.  Triad Advisors, Inc. as Mr. Harris’ broker-dealer, had an obligation to supervise Mr. Harris and the customer accounts he was servicing.

If you or someone you know lost money investing with Elliot Harris and/or Triad Advisors, Inc., you may be entitled to recover your investment losses through FINRA arbitration. CMD accepts cases on a contingency fee basis, which means we only get paid if you get paid.  Your time to file a claim may be limited, so contact us today at (212) 658-0458 or contact@cmdllp.com for a free and confidential case evaluation.

CMD Investigating Claims Against David Charles Cannata and Craig Scott Capital, LLC for Churning and Unsuitable Recommendations

Securities law firm Carmel, Milazzo & DiChiara LLP (CMD) is investigating claims against securities broker David Charles Cannata and brokerage firm Craig Scott Capital, LLC for unsuitable recommendations, excessive trading (a/k/a churning) and failure to supervise.  According to Mr. Cannata’s FINRA BrokerCheck he has been the subject of at least eight (8) customer complaints.

In September 2016, David Charles Cannata was barred from association with any FINRA member in any capacity and ordered to pay $1,566,298.14, plus interest, in restitution to customers.  The sanctions were based on findings that Cannata made unsuitable recommendation and excessively traded in customer accounts at his member firm.  The findings stated that Cannata had de facto control over the customer accounts and made all investment decisions.  Cannata’s trading strategy in each client’s account generated extraordinary levels of activity inconsistent with the clients’ objectives and financial circumstances.  The clients sustained losses ranging from $114,171 to $1,263,527 as a result of Cannata’s trading strategy.

The findings also stated that Cannata churned his customers’ accounts.  Cannata knowingly or recklessly disregarded his customers’ interests by seeking to maximize his own compensation. Both the high turnover rate and cost-to-equity ratio establish that Cannata recommended and executed trades in the customers’ accounts for his own benefit, without regard for his customers’ resources or best interests. As a result of his conduct, Cannata violated Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (Exchange Act) and Rule 10b-5 and FINRA Rule 2020.

If you or someone you know lost money investing with David Charles Cannata and/or Craig Scott Capital, LLC, you may be entitled to recover your investment losses through FINRA arbitration. CMD accepts cases on a contingency fee basis, which means we only get paid if you get paid.  Your time to file a claim may be limited, so contact us today at (212) 658-0458 or contact@cmdllp.com for a free and confidential case evaluation.

CMD is Investigating Claims Against IMS Securities, Inc. and Jackie Wadsworth Over the Sale of Variable Annuities and Real Estate Securities

Securities law firm Carmel, Milazzo & DiChiara LLP (CMD) is investigating claims against IMS Securities, Inc. and Jackie Wadsworth for unsuitable recommendations, over-concentration and failure to supervise.

According to FINRA, Ms. Wadsworth faces allegations of negligence, over-concentration, breach of fiduciary duty, misrepresentations and failure to supervise.  The product types in the complaint are variable annuities and real estate securities, such as REITs.

IMS Securities, Inc. is a small Houston, Texas based firm that posted $11.5 million in revenue last year, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Its balance sheet is tilted heavily in the direction of high-commission products like variable annuities and non-traded REITs; close to 86% of its revenue in 2015 came from commissions, according to the SEC filing.

IMS Securities was one of the four leading sellers of real estate investment trusts sponsored by United Development Funding (UDF).  The bottom fell out of those REITs last December, after an investor website posted a report that alleged that UDF IV, which was a non-traded REIT that later listed as a publicly traded REIT, operated for years like a Ponzi scheme.  Management at UDF has denied those allegations.

If you or someone you know lost money investing with IMS Securities, Inc. and/or Jackie Wadsworth, you may be entitled to recover your investment losses through FINRA arbitration. CMD accepts cases on a contingency fee basis, which means we only get paid if you get paid.  Your time to file a claim may be limited, so contact us today at (212) 658-0458 or contact@cmdllp.com for a free and confidential case evaluation.

CMD is Investigating Claims Against Richard Martin and G.F. Investment Services, LLC for Recommending Unsuitable ETFs and Failure to Supervise

Securities law firm Carmel, Milazzo & DiChiara LLP (CMD) is investigating claims against Richard Martin and G.F. Investment Services, LLC for unsuitable recommendations and failure to supervise.

In August 2016, FINRA filed a complaint against Richard Martin alleging that he solicited, purchased and recommended that his customers hold non-traditional Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) in their accounts for lengthy periods of time, despite the enormous risks associated with holding non-traditional ETFs for more than one trading session. The FINRA complaint alleges that as a result, Richard Martin did not have a reasonable basis to believe that the non-traditional ETF products he recommended were suitable for any customer. As part of his investment strategy, Richard Martin focused on one potential risk— namely, his prediction of the impending collapse of the monetary and financial system. In failing to account for any other risks, including the risk that his predictions regarding the collapse of the economy may not come to pass, Richard Martin recommended to virtually all of his customers non-traditional ETFs.  As a consequence of Richard Martin’s unsuitable investment strategy, Richard Martin’s customers sustained significant losses in the approximate amount of $8 million, and he benefited from commissions received in the approximate amount of $55,912. The complaint also alleges that Richard Martin distributed communications to the public about the non-traditional ETFs that failed to provide a sound basis for evaluating the facts, were misleading, and contained exaggerated and unwarranted language, promissory statements and projections of future provisions.

If you or someone you know lost money investing with Richard Martin and/or G.F. Investment Services, LLC, you may be entitled to recover your investment losses through FINRA arbitration.  CMD accepts cases on a contingency fee basis, which means we only get paid if you get paid.  Your time to file a claim may be limited, so contact us today at (212) 658-0458 or contact@cmdllp.com for a free and confidential case evaluation.

 

 

CMD is Investigating Claims Against Glenn King and Buckman, Buckman & Reid, Inc. for Excessive Trading and Failure to Supervise

Securities law firm Carmel, Milazzo & DiChiara LLP (CMD) is investigating claims against securities broker Glenn King and brokerage firm Buckman, Buckman & Reid, Inc. for unsuitable recommendations, excessive trading (a/k/a churning) and failure to supervise.

In August 2016, Glenn King was barred from association with any FINRA member.   The sanction was based on findings that Glenn Robert King fraudulently misrepresented and omitted material facts to customers, recommended and executed unsuitable transactions in customer accounts, and exercised discretion in customer accounts without authority and his member firm’s approval.  The findings stated that Glenn Robert King used telephone and email to knowingly and willfully make numerous false statements to customers, and omitted material information in connection with his sales of Unit Investment Trust (UITs) to the customers. Glenn Robert King sold UITs to elderly and retired customers of the firm by misrepresenting to them that he was offering safe, high-yield, tax-free bonds and CDs, and omitting material information about the products that he actually sold to the customers.

Glenn King also omitted many of the features and risks of UITs from his sales pitches to firm customers. Additionally, Glenn King failed to disclose to firm customers the sales charges and costs associated with the UITs that they purchased or affirmatively misrepresented to them that he would not charge commission. Glenn King recommended bonds to his customers, but instead purchased UITs that possessed features that he failed to disclose.  Glenn King received $38,000 in commission from these sales.

As a result of this conduct, Glenn King violated Section 10(b) of the Exchange Act and Rule 10b-5, FINRA Rule 2020 and NASD Rule 2120. The findings also stated that Glenn Robert King engaged in excessive and unsuitable short-term trading of long-term investments, such as UITs and closed-end funds (CEFs), in the accounts of firm customers. Glenn Robert King’s trading was quantitatively and qualitatively unsuitable. Glenn Robert King’s frenetic trading was inconsistent with their objectives and financial circumstances, and resulted in customer losses of approximately $163,000.  Glenn Robert King’s misconduct was intentional and resulted in his monetary gain of approximately $210,000 in commissions. Glenn Robert King did not have reasonable grounds to believe that the number of CEF and UIT transactions that he executed in the customers’ accounts were not excessive. The findings also included that Glenn King exercised discretion in customer accounts by effecting trades in their accounts, including transactions involving UITs and CEFs, without obtaining prior written authorization from those customers. Glenn King also failed to obtain the firm’s written acceptance of the accounts as discretionary. In fact, Buckman, Buckman & Reid, Inc. prohibited the use of discretion by its representatives.

If you or someone you know lost money investing with Glenn King and/or Buckman, Buckman & Reid, Inc., you may be entitled to recover your investment losses through FINRA arbitration.  CMD accepts cases on a contingency fee basis, which means we only get paid if you get paid.  Your time to file a claim may be limited, so contact us today at (212) 658-0458 or contact@cmdllp.com for a free and confidential case evaluation.

CMD is Investigating Claims Against Arthur Espinoza and Freedom Investors Corp. for Fraud

Securities law firm Carmel, Milazzo & DiChiara LLP (CMD) is investigating claims against Arthur Espinoza and Freedom Investors Corp. for fraud and failure to supervise.

In August 2016, Arhtur Espinoza was barred from association with any FINRA member in any capacity.  The findings stated that Arthur Espinoza incorporated a company that he operated and obtained investors who collectively invested more than $325,000 with the company.  In return for the investments, which were undocumented, Arthur Espinoza orally agreed to pay the investors an annual or semi-annual payment equaling 5.25 percent of their invested principal. Arthur Espinoza is unable to account for substantial amounts of the funds he raised from the investors, is not currently able to pay the principal back, and does not have any credible plans to do so.

If you or someone you know lost money investing with Arthur Espinoza and/or Freedom Investors Corp., you may be entitled to recover your investment losses through FINRA arbitration.  CMD accepts cases on a contingency fee basis, which means we only get paid if you get paid.  Your time to file a claim may be limited, so contact us today at (212) 658-0458 or contact@cmdllp.com for a free and confidential case evaluation.

CMD is Investigating Claims Against Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. for Unsuitable Closed-End Funds (CEFs)

Securities law firm Carmel, Milazzo & DiChiara LLP (CMD) is investigating claims against brokerage firm Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. for recommending unsuitable closed-end funds (CEFs) and for failure to supervise.

In August 2016, Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. entered into an Acceptance, Waiver and Consent (AWC) with FINRA.  According to FINRA, Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. failed to establish and maintain a system and procedures that were reasonably designed to supervise its registered representatives’ sales of closed-end funds (CEFs) to their customers. The findings stated that despite being aware that CEFs purchased at an initial public offering (IPO) were most suitable for long-term investments, and that the sales charges applied to purchases at the IPO made short-term trading of these CEFs generally unsuitable, Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. did not have a system and procedures reasonably designed to detect and prevent potentially harmful short-term trading of CEFs.

As a result, Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. failed to detect and prevent at least one registered representative from engaging in a pattern of unsuitable short-term trading of CEFs purchased at the IPO. The findings also stated that a former registered representative engaged in a pattern of recommending short-term trading of CEFs at the IPO in connection with customer accounts.  On two occasions, the registered representative’s activity was flagged by Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc.’s centralized supervision unit (CSU), which was a group of registered principals responsible for reviewing trading and determining discipline.  However, on each occasion, no demonstrable action was taken, as the CSU registered principals’ attempts at escalation were not properly acted upon, indicating that the firm was not adequately supervising this type of transaction. The findings also included that a CSU registered principal again flagged the registered representative’s activity, and an investigation of the registered representative’s CEF recommendations was undertaken, which ultimately led to the registered representative’s termination.

FINRA  found that Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. did not utilize any surveillance reports designed to highlight or detect patterns of short-term trading or switching of CEFs. While CSU registered principals generally reviewed CEF IPO transactions, and had the ability to establish filters in their supervisory review tool for purposes of detecting potentially unsuitable patterns, the use of these filters was not required.  As a result, Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. failed to establish, maintain, and enforce a supervisory system and written supervisory procedures reasonably designed to ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations relating to the suitability of short-term trading of CEFs at the IPO.

If you or someone you know lost money investing with Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc., you may be entitled to recover your investment losses through FINRA arbitration.  CMD accepts cases on a contingency fee basis, which means we only get paid if you get paid.  Your time to file a claim may be limited, so contact us today at (212) 658-0458 or contact@cmdllp.com for a free and confidential case evaluation.

CMD is Investigating Claims Against Lawson Financial Corporation for Securities Fraud

Securities law firm Carmel, Milazzo & DiChiara LLP (“CMD”) is investigating claims against brokerage firm Lawson Financial Corporation (CRD# 15261)  for securities fraud.

In May 2016, FINRA filed a complaint against Lawson Financial Corporation and its CEO Robert Lawson, alleging that they carried out a massive securities fraud in connection with the sale of millions of dollars of municipal revenue bonds to Lawson Financial Corporation customers, in violation of Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Exchange Act”), Rule 10b-5 there under and Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (“MSRB”) Rule G-17.  During this same period, and continuing through the present, Robert Lawson also misused customer funds in violation of FINRA Rules 2150(a) and 2010, and Robert Lawson and Respondent Pamela Lawson  violated FINRA Rule 2010 by abusing their positions as co-trustees of a charitable remainder trust by improperly transferring millions of dollars from the trust in an undisclosed attempt to prop up the faltering borrowers of the municipal revenue bonds.

Lawson Financial Corporation’s and Robert Lawson’s fraudulent securities sales involved four municipal revenue bonds: the Hillcrest Bonds, the Decatur Bonds, the Cullman Bonds, and the Destiny Bonds. Lawson Financial Corporation and Robert Lawson’s fraudulent bond sales included bond sales made in primary market sales to Lawson Financial Corporation customers in the initial bond offering period for the Hillcrest Bonds, as sold commencing in October 2014, as well as later secondary market bond sales of the Hillcrest Bonds to Lawson Financial Corporation customers in 2015.  In addition, Lawson Financial Corporation and Robert Lawson’s fraudulent bond sales included secondary market bond sales made (i) to Lawson Financial Corporation customers who purchased the Cullman Bonds and Decatur Bonds between January 2013 and July 2015, and (ii) to Lawson Financial Corporation customers who purchased the Destiny Bonds between May 2015 and September 2015.

The Destiny Bonds and Hillcrest Bonds funded a charter school located in Mesa, Arizona, while the Cullman Bonds and Decatur Bonds funded two assisted living facilities located in, respectively, Cullman and Decatur, Alabama. The charter school and the two assisted living facilities (the conduit borrowers for the municipal revenue bonds) each suffered from severe financial difficulties and were unable to meet their required operating expenses. Moreover, the Cullman and Decatur assisted living facilities often were unable to meet required debt service payments on the Cullman Bonds and the Decatur Bonds without using funds from the charitable remainder trust account at Lawson Financial Corporation.

If you or someone you know lost money investing with Lawson Financial Corporation, you may be entitled to recover your investment losses through FINRA arbitration.  CMD accepts cases on a contingency fee basis, which means we only get paid if you get paid.  Your time to file a claim may be limited, so contact us today at (212) 658-0458 or contact@cmdllp.com for a free and confidential case evaluation.

Complaints Against Securities America, Inc. (CRD# 10205)

Securities law firm Carmel, Milazzo & DiChiara LLP (CMD) is investigating complaints against broker-dealer Securities America, Inc., a a wholly owned subsidiary of Ladenburg Thalmann Financial Services, Inc.

According to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Nebraska based brokerage firm Securities America, Inc. (CRD# 10205) has been the subject of at least 29 customer complaints and 46 regulatory events, including sanctions.

In 2015, Securities America entered into an Acceptance, Waiver and Consent with FINRA and consented to sanctions and findings that it failed to identify and apply sales charge discounts to certain customers’ eligible purchases of Unit Investment Trusts (UITs). As a result, the firm was censured, fined $275,000 and ordered to pay $477,686.88 in restitution.

In 2015, the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services, sanctioned Securities America following allegations of unsuitability, failure to supervise, and failure to enforce its written supervisory procedures.  Securities America was fined $70,000.

In 2005, a customer alleged that Securities America made misrepresentations, breach its fiduciary duty, breached its contract and was negligent in the handling of the customers account.  A FINRA arbitration panel awarded the customer $7,284,439.01.

In 2010, a customer alleged that Securities America made misrepresentations and/or omitted facts, breached its fiduciary duty, was negligent and failed to supervise the customer’s account.  A FINRA arbitration panel awarded the customer $1,155,466.01.

In 2012, a customer alleged that Securities America breached its fiduciary duty and made misrepresentations concerning Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs).  A FINRA arbitration panel awarded the customer $573,316.29.

If you or someone you know lost money investing with Securities America, Inc., you may be entitled to recover your investment losses through FINRA arbitration.  CMD accepts cases on a contingency fee basis, which means we only get paid if you get paid.  Your time to file a claim may be limited, so contact us today at (212) 658-0458 or contact@cmdllp.com for a free and confidential case evaluation.

CMD Investigating Claims Against Steven Ellsworth Larson and Oakbridge Financial Services for Fraud

Carmel, Milazzo & DiChiara LLP (CMD) is investigating potential claims against securities broker Steven Ellsworth Larson (CRD# 2422755) and Oakbridge Financial Services for unauthorized trading and failure to supervise.

FINRA has filed a complaint alleging that Steven Ellsworth Larson made numerous misstatements or omissions of material facts concerning the present values and safety of “church bonds”—bonds issued by religious organizations to construct or develop real property, and which are secured by first mortgages on the real property to be constructed or developed.  The complaint alleges that Larson made these misstatements or omissions in order to mislead customers about the true value of their church-bond holdings, which were securities, to avoid confrontation with customers, and to prevent customers from liquidating their holdings or closing their accounts.  By May 2013, most of the church bonds that Larson’s customers held in their accounts had already gone into default, bankruptcy, forbearance or restructuring.  Due to a decline in real-estate values, many of the church-bond issuers were underwater on their mortgages.  Nonetheless, Larson represented to customers that their defaulted church bonds retained all or most of their original value and even, in many instances, significantly more than their original value.  Larson knew or was reckless in not knowing that his statements and omissions in the church bond update about the church bonds and church bond issuers were false and misleading, and that pricing reports provided to customers repeatedly and significantly inflated the values of his customers’ church-bond holdings.

The complaint also alleges that when recommending the purchase side of each cross trade, Larson knowingly, willfully, or recklessly misrepresented or omitted material facts regarding the prices at which he recommended those purchases.  In particular, Larson knew or was reckless in not knowing that the bonds involved in those cross trades should have been bought or sold only at significant discounts from par value, that the prices at which he recommended his customers buy the bonds were not reasonably related to the prevailing market prices or fair market values for the bonds, and that he recommended each purchase without exercising reasonable diligence to discover whether the purchasers could have obtained the bonds at more favorable prices. As a result, Larson violated Section 10(b) of the Exchange Act Rule 10b-5.

If you or someone you know lost money investing with Steven Ellsworth Larson and/or Oakbridge Financial Services, you may be entitled to recover your investment losses through FINRA arbitration.  CMD accepts cases on a contingency fee basis, which means we only get paid if you get paid.  Your time to file a claim may be limited, so contact us today at (212) 658-0458 or contact@cmdllp.com for a free and confidential case evaluation.