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Articles Tagged with investment fraud lawyers

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broker misappropriating client moneySyosset, NY-based stockbroker Matthew Eckstein was recently charged with three counts of second-degree grand larceny, third degree grand larceny, and two counts of first-degree scheme to defraud by the Nassau County District Attorney.  These charges stem from Mr. Eckstein’s business as a financial advisor in Garden City, NY, and more specifically, allegations that he “betrayed his clients’ trust when he stole their money in a multi-million dollar Ponzi scheme and even pilfered hundred of thousands from the estates of deceased clients” according to Madeline Singas, the Nassau County District Attorney.

FINRA BrokerCheck indicates that Matthew Evan Eckstein’s (CRD# 2997245) career in the securities industry dates back to 1998, when he first began working as a registered representative for Gould, Ambroson & Associates Ltd. (“Gould”) (CRD# 17412) in Garden City, NY.  Since September 16, 2015, Mr. Eckstein has been registered at his own broker-dealer, Sisk Investment Services, Inc. (“Sisk”) (CRD# 19406), where he is chief executive and chief compliance officer.  On April 27, 2018, FINRA Enforcement filed a Complaint naming Mr. Eckstein as Respondent.  As alleged by FINRA, from December 2014 until December 2015, Mr. Eckstein purportedly sold over $1.3 million in supposedly safe private investments akin to CDs to numerous clients.

Publicly available information suggests Mr. Eckstein’s alleged victims are from Massapequa, Seaford, Smithtown, Melville, Staten Island, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Norwalk, CT, Jupiter, FL, and Redlands, CA.  In January 2015, Mr. Eckstein allegedly convinced one customer to invest approximately $385,000 into a company, Conmac Funding (“Conmac”), that was touted as a safe, no-risk investment.  Further, Mr. Eckstein purportedly assured the client that the investment principal would be returned in two years, with an additional four-percent interest, much like a certificate of deposit.  However, as recently reported, when the client requested his money back two years later, he only received $26,699.

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financial charts and stockbrokerOn March 27, 2018, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) announced formal charges against Wedbush Securities Inc. (“Wedbush”, CRD# 877) with respect to allegations that the broker-dealer failed to supervise its employee, Ms. Timary Delorme (f/k/a Timary Koller) (“Delorme”).  Based on its investigation, the SEC alleged Wedbush ignored numerous red flags indicating that Ms. Delorme — who has been affiliated with Wedbush as a registered representative since 1981 — was purportedly involved in a manipulative penny stock trading scheme with Izak Zirk Englebrecht, a/k/a Zirk De Maison “(“Englebrecht”).

As alleged by the SEC, Mr. Englebrecht engaged in manipulative trading, commonly referred to as “pump and dumps”, through the use of various thinly traded microcap penny stocks.  According to the SEC’s allegations, Ms. Delorme purchased stocks at Englebrecht’s behest in certain customer accounts, and in turn received undisclosed material benefits.  Moreover, the SEC’s findings suggest that Wedbush ignored numerous red flags associated with Ms. Delorme’s alleged involvement in the scheme, including a customer email outlining her involvement, as well as several FINRA arbitrations regarding her penny stock trading activity.

In response to the red flags, Wedbush purportedly conducted two investigations into Ms. Delorme’s conduct.  The SEC has characterized Wedbush’s investigation as “flawed and insufficient”, and that ultimately the brokerage firm failed to take appropriate action to address the alleged misconduct.  The SEC’s order instituting administrative proceedings against Wedbush charges that the broker-dealer failed to reasonably supervise its broker, Ms. Delorme.  The matter will come before an administrative law judge, who will hear the case and prepare an initial decision — there have not yet been any findings of misconduct.

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Money MazeInvestors who suffered losses due to misconduct by financial advisor Ralph Savoie (CRD# 411660) may be able to recover their losses in arbitration before the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”).  On March 26, 2018, Mr. Savoie plead guilty in Louisiana federal court to stealing up to $1.5 million from clients, using their monies for personal expenses including jewelry, hotels, and credit card bills, as well as to pay off previous clients in Ponzi-fashion in connection with prior purported investment opportunities.  Mr. Savoie allegedly guaranteed his clients high rates of returns on various investments in securities and insurance products, describing the investments as a “sure thing.”  In actuality, however, Mr. Savoie allegedly engaged in misconduct by using these funds on personal expenses, to pay prior clients and to funnel money into a “risky real estate venture.”

According to public records, Mr. Savoie of Mandeville, LA, was formerly associated with Cambridge Investment Research Advisors, Inc. (CRD# 134139) (“Cambridge”) in their Metairie, LA, branch office, until on or about August 11, 2015, at which time Mr. Savoie was discharged from his employment with Cambridge as a registered representative.  Mr. Savoie’s career in the securities industry is lengthy and dates back to the early 1970’s, including his most recent stint at Cambridge from 2013 until August 2015.

According to publicly available information through FINRA, Mr. Savoie was discharged from his employment with Cambridge due to his alleged failure to “[d]isclose and receive approval for an outside business activity.”  Further, FINRA reports that Mr. Savoie has been subject to six customer disputes, including three that remain pending and three that have resulted in settlement.  A number of these disputes center on allegations concerning Mr. Savoie’s purported sales of “unsuitable, illiquid, expensive, private placements.”

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Money MazeFinancial advisor Melvin Elwood Case (CRD# 2393464) has been suspended from the securities industry.  According to publicly available information through FINRA, on January 19, 2018, Mr. Case, without admitting or denying FINRA Enforcement’s findings, consented to being barred from the securities industry in all capacities for a period of six months (the suspension is set to terminate on August 4, 2018).

Specifically, FINRA enforcement entered into a settlement via Acceptance, Waiver and Consent (“AWC”) with the Respondent, pursuant to which Mr. Case consented to a finding that he “willfully omitted to state a material fact on a Form U4, and that under Section 3(a)(39)(F) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934… this omission makes him subject to a statutory disqualification with respect to association with a [FINRA] member.”  As disclosed by FINRA, Mr. Case pled guilty to a felony charge of exploitation of an aged adult on or about August 2016.  It appears that final adjudication of guilt was withheld, and Mr. Case was placed on probation for a period of 24 months.

Based on his purported failure to report his criminal infraction to his employer, LPL Financial LLC (“LPL”) (CRD# 6413), Mr. Case was terminated by LPL on or about May 2, 2017.  As disclosed through FINRA, Mr. Case’s termination by LPL concerned allegations of “criminal charges involving exploitation of an aged adult after converting the victim’s money for his own benefit.”

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Money in WastebasketOn February 9, 2017, FINRA Enforcement signed off on a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent (“AWC”) between FINRA and former financial advisor Matthew C. Maczko (“Maczko” or “Respondent”) (CRD# 1888519).  Without admitting or denying FINRA’s findings, Mr. Maczko voluntarily consented to an industry bar from associating with any FINRA member firm in any capacity.

Mr. Maczko first became associated with a FINRA member firm in 1988 as a general securities representative under the employ of UBS Financial Services Inc. (“UBS”) (CRD# 8174).  During the course of his career, he worked at UBS for nearly twenty years, and thereafter, from 2008-2016, worked as a registered representative for Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC (“Wells Fargo”) (CRD# 19616).

According to the AWC, “[M]aczko had been terminated on September 2, 2016” by Wells Fargo in connection with the brokerage firm’s “[i]nternal review for adherence to industry standards of conduct based on concerns about the level of trading in a customer account.”  Furthermore, the AWC specifically referenced the following instance of alleged excessive trading, or churning, purportedly conducted by Maczko while affiliated with Wells Fargo:

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woodbridge mortgage fundsAs we recently discussed in detail in a previous blog post, on December 21, 2017, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) formally announced charges, as well as an asset freeze, against the Woodbridge Group of Companies (“Woodbridge”) of Sherman Oaks, CA, as well as Woodbridge’s related unregistered investment funds, and the firm’s owner and former CEO, Robert Shapiro.  Among other things, the SEC has alleged in its Complaint – filed in Florida federal court – that “[D]efendant Robert H. Shapiro used his web of more than 275 Limited Liability Companies to conduct a massive Ponzi scheme raising more than $1.22 billion from over 8,400 unsuspecting investors nationwide through fraudulent unregistered securities offerings.”

According to the SEC’s Complaint, Woodbridge utilized a large and coordinated sales force to sell its Woodbridge Notes, sometimes referred to as First Position Commercial Mortgages (“FPCMs”).  As further alleged by the SEC, “Woodbridge employed a sales team of approximately 30 in-house employees that operated within Woodbridge’s offices.”  Moreover, the SEC’s Complaint alleges that “Woodbridge also utilized a network of hundreds of external sales agents to solicit investments from the general public by way of television, radio, and newspaper advertisements, cold calling campaigns, social media, websites, seminars and in-person presentations.”

As detailed in the SEC’s Complaint, the Woodbridge business model relied upon borrowing money from investors in exchange for promissory notes, typically maturing in 12 – 18 months.  These notes carried an annual interest rate of 5 – 8%, payable monthly.  The investors’ money was supposed to be issued to lenders in the form of securitized mortgages.  However, according to the SEC, this rarely occurred.

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Investment fraud lawyers are currently investigating claims on behalf of the victims of securities fraud perpetuated through schemes such as advanced fee scams. Reportedly, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has filed charges against Frederick D. Scott, a New York money manager. Scott owns ACI Capital Group, an investment advisory firm. According to the SEC, Scott made false claims regarding the company’s assets under management. He allegedly claimed the assets to be $3.7 million so that he would appear more credible when promoting “too good to be true” investment opportunities.

Allegedly, Scott targeted individual investors and small businesses with multiple financial scams. The SEC claims that he promised high rates of return in order to get money from investors and then stole their money. Reportedly, Scott used investor funds to pay his personal expenses, such as private school tuition for his children, department store purchases, air travel, dental bills and hotels, and his clients never received the promised returns.

According to securities arbitration lawyers, one of Scott’s alleged scams was an advanced fee scheme in which investors were told that the firm would give multi-million-dollar loans after a percentage of the loan amount was advanced to the firm. Reportedly, investors were told they would receive the remaining balance after the loan was made but they never received this sum.

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Securities lawyers are currently investigating claims on behalf of investors whose portfolios held by VSR Financial Services or other brokerage firms contained an unsuitable concentration of alternative investments. Reportedly, VSR Financial Services Inc. is being fined $550,000 by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) over claims that a reasonable supervisory system was not set up, maintained or enforced regarding non-conventional investment sales.

Firm Fined for Allegations of Inadequate Supervision of Concentrated Client Positions in Alternative Investments

Reportedly, stipulations in VSR’s written supervisory procedures allowed only up to 50 percent of the exclusive net worth of their clients could be invested in alternative investments, unless there was a justifiable reason for exceeding these guidelines. In addition, VSR’s owner allegedly set up procedures that provided a discount through certain non-conventional instruments that artificially lowered the amount of the customer’s liquid net worth that was invested in non-conventional instruments.

However, the Securities and Exchange Commission stated in a letter to VSR that it had found that adequate written procedures had not been established for the program and this deficiency had not been corrected two years after VSR was notified by the regulator of the problem. The SEC also stated that reasonable actions were not taken to ensure the written supervisory procedures were implemented or, if they were not implemented, to eliminate the discount program.

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Investment fraud lawyers are currently investigating claims regarding UBS Securities. UBS Securities has agreed to pay almost $50 million to settle charges that it violated securities laws regarding certain collateralized debt obligation, or “CDO”, investments. The charges apply to the firm’s structuring and marketing of ACA ABS 2007-2 — a CDO, or collateralized debt obligation. Allegedly, UBS failed to disclose the fact that it retained millions in upfront cash while acquiring collateral. The SEC officially charged UBS on August 6, 2013.


The collateral for the CDO was managed by ACA Management and reportedly was primarily consisted of CDS on subprime RMBS, or residential mortgage-backed securities. According to securities arbitration lawyers, the CDO — as the “insurer” — received premiums from the CDS collateral on a monthly basis. Then the premiums were used for CDO bondholder payments. According to the SEC, ACA and UBS agreed that the collateral manager would seek bids for yield that contained both a fixed running spread and upfront cash in the form of “points.”

According to the SEC’s findings, UBS collected upfront payments totaling $23.6 million while acquiring collateral and, instead of transferring the upfront fees at the same time as the collateral, UBS kept the upfront payments and chose not to disclose this information. In addition to retaining the undisclosed $23.6 million, it also retained a disclosed fee of $10.8 million. Investment fraud lawyers say the decision not to disclose the retention of the upfront points was inconsistent with prior UBS deals and the industry standard. Allegedly, UBS’ head of the U.S. CDO group stated, “Let’s see how much money we can draw out of the deal.”

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Investment fraud lawyers are currently investigating claims on behalf of investors who mya have been defrauded through microcap shell company pump-and-dump schemes in light of one of the largest trading suspensions in Securities and Exchange Commission history. In June, the SEC announced that it would suspend trading in 61 companies in the over-the-counter market on the basis that they are ripe for fraud .135963527SEC_Suspends_61_Companies_as_Possible_Too_ls_for_Fraud “The SEC suspended trading in the securities of 61 empty shell companies that are delinquent in their public filings and seemingly no longer in business based on an analysis by the SEC’s Microcap Fraud Working Group,” SEC officials stated in a statement. “Since microcap companies are thinly traded, once they become dormant they have a great potential to be hijacked by fraudsters who falsely hype the stock to portray it as a thriving company and coerce investors into ‘pump-and-dump’ schemes.” Reportedly, these companies were identified in 17 states and one foreign country. Following this suspension, these companies are required to prove they are still operational with updated financial information. However, securities arbitration lawyers say that while these companies became useless to fraudsters once they were suspended, it is difficult for them to identify every shell company that is a possible tool for fraud in time to prevent fraud from occurring. According to investment fraud lawyers, in a pump-and-dump scheme, fraudsters will use false and misleading statements to sell investments in the company, purchasing the stock at a low price, “pumping” the price of the stock higher and then selling the stock at a profit. Previously, the SEC suspended 379 such companies in one day, making this the second-largest suspension in history. A complete list of the 61 companies can be found on the SEC’s website. If you were persuaded to invest in any of these companies by your broker or financial adviser, 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 for a no-cost, confidential consultation.

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