Articles Posted in LPL Financial

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Building Demolished On October 24, 2017, the New Jersey Bureau of Securities (the “Bureau”) entered into a Consent Order (“Order”) with Boston-based brokerage firm LPL Financial, LLC (CRD# 6413) (“LPL”), in connection with LPL’s sales of certain non-traded investment products to residents of New Jersey.  Specifically, the Order encapsulated findings of fact that LPL agents sold to New Jersey clients various non-traded financial products, including non-traded real estate investment trusts (“REITs”), as well as non-traded business development companies (“BDCs”) and other non-traded investments such as closed-end and interval funds, hedge funds, and managed futures.

In particular, the Bureau focused on LPL’s sales of non-traded REITs (some 7,823 transactions) and non-traded BDCs (some 2,120 transactions).   Non-traded REITs and BDCs carry considerable risks, chief among them their illiquid nature (often, investors are not fully aware at the time of purchase that exiting the investment could be problematic).  As stated in the Bureau’s Order: “Non-traded REITs and non-traded BDCs are generally illiquid as they have no public trading market and a liquidity event typically occurs within five to seven years of an offering’s inception.”

Aside from liquidity concerns, there are numerous additional risks associated with non-traded financial products, including but not limited to characteristically high up-front fees charged investors (commissions to brokers and their firm run as high as 10%, as well as certain due diligence and administrative fees that can range up to 3%), as well as the fact that many non-traded REITs and BDCs pay distributions from investor capital (return of capital).  This return of capital may confuse some investors who believe that the investment’s yield is based on positive earnings and cash flows.

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The State of Colorado has reportedly indicted former LPL financial advisor Sonya D. Camarco on six counts of securities fraud and seven counts of theft for allegedly diverting more than $850,000 in customer money for her personal use between January 2013 and May.  Ms. Camarco reportedly was terminated by LPL Financial in August 2017for “depositing third-party checks from client accounts into a bank account she controlled and accessing client funds for personal use.”

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In a news release, the Colorado Securities Division stated that an LPL Securities internal investigation concluded that Ms. Camaro had caused checks to be drawn on customer accounts and deposited in an account she controlled, and that she was using the funds for personal expenditures.

In August 23, 2017, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) filed a civil complaint (the “Complaint”) against Ms. Camarco (“Camarco”) in federal court in Colorado.  As alleged in the Complaint, Ms. Camarco’s   fraudulent scheme involving misappropriation of client funds dates back to approximately 2004 and continued through at least August 2017.

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The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) recently fined LPL Financial $10 million fine and ordered it to pay $1.7 million in restitution to investors who lost money with LPL brokers.  The charges levied by FINRA alleged widespread supervisory failures involving securities such as nontraditional exchange-traded funds, variable annuities and non-traded real estate investment trusts (or REITs).

15.6.10 moneyand house in handsLPL’s failure to supervise sales of nontraditional ETFs continued into 2015, according to FINRA.   FINRA also alleged that LPL failed to have adequate supervisory systems and guidelines for sales of nontraded REITs from January 2007 to August 2014. LPL consented to the fine without admitting or denying the charges.

This was not LPL’s first regulatory issue concerning lack of supervision concerning high-commission investments such as non-traded REITs.  In March 2014, FINRA fined LPL $950,000 for supervisory deficiencies related to sales of a wide range of alternative investment products. These include nontraded REITs, oil and gas partnerships, business development companies, hedge funds, managed futures and other illiquid investments.

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Investor lawyers say the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) found supervisory deficiencies related to investment concentration at leading independent broker-dealer LPL Finanical.    As a result of alleged unsuitable recommendations, FINRA has announced a penalty in the form of a $950,000 against LPL Financial.

Supervisory Failure Leaves LPL Financial with Heavy Fines

Alternative investments can include a variety of products, including oil and gas partnerships, hedge funds, non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs), business development companies (BDCs) and other related categories.  Though LPL Financial set forth guidelines to manage investment concentration, FINRA reports that from January 2008 until July 2012, there was no internal effort to enforce these guidelines.  As a result, some clients may have received investment advice that resulted in levels of concentration that were excessive.

 If you suffered significant losses as a result of an unsuitable recommendation to purchase or over-concentrate your portfolio in non-conventional investments (whether from LPL or another stockbroker or financial advisor), you may be able to recover your losses through securities arbitration. To find out more about your legal rights and options, contact a securities arbitration lawyer at Law Office of Christopher J. Gray, P.C. at (866) 966-9598 or newcases@investorlawyers.net for a no-cost, confidential consultation.

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Securities fraud attorneys are investigating claims on behalf of customers of LPL Financial LLC. This move comes on the heels of an announcement on March 24, 2014 from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) which stated that the firm had been fined $950,000 for supervisory failures related to alternative investment sales.

Unsuitable Alternative Investment Sales: LPL Customers Could Recover Losses

These investments included:

  • Non-traded real estate investment trusts, or REITs
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Securities fraud attorneys are investigating claims on behalf of customers who suffered significant losses in non-traded REITs as a result of doing business with Gary Chackman, an LPL Financial broker. In December, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority barred Chackman for violating securities industry rules related to the sales of non-traded real estate investment trusts.

LPL Broker Barred for Improper Non-traded REIT Sales Customers Could Recover Losses

The alleged misconduct relates to the time period from 2009 to 2012, but Chackman was registered with LPL between 2001 and 2012. In 2012, his registration was terminated by the firm for violating the firm’s policies and procedures regarding alternative investment sales.

According to the letter of acceptance waiver and consent, Chackman “recommended and effected unsuitable transactions in the accounts of at least eight LPL customers, by overconcentrating his customers’ assets in [REITs] and other illiquid securities.” The letter, dated December 12, 2012, also states that by submitting falsified documents, Chackman “was able to increase his customers’ accounts’ concentration in REITs and other alternative investments beyond the allocation limits established by [LPL].”

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Investment fraud lawyers are currently investigating claims on behalf of individuals who suffered significant losses as a result of the unsuitable recommendation of non-traded REITs and variable annuities from Royal Alliance Securities- and LPL Financial-registered representatives.

Investigations into Unsuitable Sales of REITs, Variable Annuities by Royal Alliance Securities, LPL Financial Representatives

Reportedly, a claim has already been filed on behalf of one investor against Kathleen Tarr, a former representative of Royal Alliance Securities. Allegedly, Tarr recommended taking an early retirement option and then sold the investor unsuitable variable annuities and non-traded REITs. Prior to taking the early retirement option, the investor’s portfolio consisted of diversified retirement investments.

In addition, securities arbitration lawyers are investigating recommendations made by Brian Brunhaver, a former registered representative for LPL Financial. Allegedly, Brunhaver unsuitably recommended the purchase of the non-traded REITs, specifically Inland American and Inland Western, to a client. This client was seeking to make investments that would fund future college expenses. Because of the illiquidity of non-traded REITs, the investments could not be sold in time to meet the client’s needs.

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  Reportedly, 15 brokerage firms have been subpoenaed by the Commonwealth of  Massachusetts as part of an  investigation into sales of alternative investments to senior citizens.

15 Brokerage Firms Subpoenaed Over Alternative Investment Sales

The following firms have reportedly been subpoenaed: Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, UBS Securities LLC, Charles Schwab & Co. Inc., Fidelity Brokerage Services LLC, Wells Fargo Advisors, ING Financial Partners Inc., TD Ameritrade Inc., LPL Financial LLC, MML Investor Services LLC, Commonwealth Financial Network, Investors Capital Corp., WFG Investments Inc. and Signator Investors Inc.

According to securities arbitration lawyers, the state sent subpoenas to the firms on July 10, 2013, requesting information regarding the sale of certain products to Massachusetts residents 65 or older over the last year. Nontraditional investments include private placements, hedge funds, oil and gas partnerships, tenant-in-common offerings, and structured products.

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Investment fraud lawyers are currently investigating claims on behalf of Ameriprise Financial and LPL Financial customers. Recently, the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission charged Blake B. Richards, a former LPL and Ameriprise Advisor Services advisor, with fraud. Allegedly, Richards misappropriated funds from a minimum of six individuals, amounting to around $2 million.

According to the SEC, at least two of Richards’ victims are elderly and most of the allegedly misappropriated funds were life insurance proceeds and/or retirement savings.

“Since at least 2008, on occasions when investors informed Richards that they had funds available to invest (such as from an IRA rollover or proceeds from a life insurance policy), Richards instructed the investors to write out checks to an entity called ‘Blake Richards Investments,’ a d/b/a entity, or another d/b/a used by Richards, ‘BMO Investments,'” the SEC’s complaint states. “Richards represented to the investors that he would invest their funds through his investment vehicle in life insurance, fixed income assets, variable annuities, or household-name stocks. Richards misappropriated much of the funds.”

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On May 22, 2013, secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts William Galvin announced settlements with five major independent broker-dealers. According to the settlements, Ameriprise Financial Services Inc. will pay $2.6 million in restitution to investors and a $400,000 fine, Commonwealth Financial Network will pay restitution of $2.1 million and a fine of $300,000, Royal Alliance Associates Inc. will pay restitution of $59,000 and a fine of $25,000, Securities America Inc. will pay restitution of $778,000 and a fine of $150,000 and Lincoln Financial Advisors Corp. will pay restitution of $504,000 and a fine of $100,000. Securities fraud attorneys are currently investigating claims on behalf of investors who purchased Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) from these or any other independent broker-dealers.

Non-traded REITs: Five Firms to Pay $7 Million in Massachusetts Settlement

According to a statement made by Mr. Galvin, “Our investigation into the sales of REITs, triggered by investor complaints, showed a pattern of impropriety on the sales of these popular but risky investments on the part of independent brokerage firms where supervision has historically been difficult to monitor.”

According to stock fraud lawyers, this settlement follows the February decision in which LPL Financial LLC was required to pay restitution to investors of $2 million and fines totaling $500,000 regarding non-traded REIT sales. 

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