Articles Tagged with fraud

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On July 31, 2019 Investment Adviser Dawn Bennett was sentenced to 20 years in jail. Bennett defrauded no less than 46 Investors in a $20 million Ponzi scheme. Reportage is from the U.S. Attorney’s office (District of Maryland).

Bennett was handed the maximum sentence in addition to five years of supervised probation upon her release.

Bennett advertised her purported genius through use of a paid radio show: “Financial Myth Busting.” She was convicted last October of conspiracy and fraud—17 counts in all.

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On April 11, 2019, the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) charged two former directors of investments at Woodbridge Group of Companies LLC related to their participation in a massive Ponzi scheme. Ivan Acevedo and Dane R. Roseman, were charged, along with Robert H. Shapiro (who was Woodbridge’s owner).

Previously, a number of others, principally unregistered securities brokers, were charged.

In prior SEC charges, the SEC charged Woodbridge and Shapiro, and Woodbridge’s unlicensed brokers. A federal court in Florida in January 2019 ordered Woodbridge and Shapiro together to pay $1 billion for operating this Ponzi scheme.

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BROKER NAILED FOR $250K. BROKER TIMARY DELORME FINED IN  PUMP AND DUMP.

The SEC  (Securities and Exchange Commission) (SEC) announced that Wedbush Securities Inc. will pay a $250,000 penalty and has agreed to be censured to settle its failure to supervise charge concerning a “pump and dump” scheme by its broker, Timary Delorme.

The SEC stated: “Wedbush ignored numerous red flags indicating that one of its registered representatives was involved in a long-running pump-and-dump scheme targeting retail investors. Wedbush conducted two flawed and insufficient investigations into the registered representative’s conduct, and failed to take appropriate action.”

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On March 15, 2019, Talimco LLC, a registered investment adviser, and its former COO, Rodgers, were charged with manipulating the auction of a commercial real estate asset. One client’s asset was raided in a bid rigging scheme to sell the asset to a private affiliated client.

The asset was a commercial real estate asset sold in an alleged bidding process.

Talimco and Rogers owed its selling client a fiduciary duty to take steps to use its best efforts to maximize the price obtained for the asset. Rather than searching for competitive arms length offers, Rogers purportedly used the firm’s successful affiliated fund client for one bid, then convinced two other bidders to participate in the auction (who were actually shills who would underbid).

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History repeats itself.

In the booming 1920s, before regulation imposed by the New Deal, scamsters would literally form public corporations, go public and sell shares, based on fictitious businesses. Stock manipulators like Joe Kennedy would reap fortunes at a clip by selling shares after the public securities price of the shares was run up.. There were “pools” in which investors conspired to perpetrate this kind of fraud. A notable scam of the 1920s was the “Radio Pool,” in which crooked Wall Streeters would drive up RCA (the leading stock of the booming 1920s) stock, unload their shares for huge profits, then leave unwary investors with collapsed prices for RCA.

Now, even after 85 years of regulation by the SEC, it happened again.

The Financial Institutions Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has ejected broker Mark Kaplan from the securities industry. Kaplan was found to have churned the account of a 93 year old client.

According to the Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent agreed to by Kaplan, the 93 year old was stricken with dementia.

The churning occurred over  4 years. $723,000 in trading losses occurred. Kaplan reportedly generated a like amount of commissions and mark ups for himself and his employer, Vanderbilt Securities.

On December 19, 2018, the SEC announced additional charges against an additional 13 individuals and 10 companies for unlawfully selling securities of Woodbridge Group of Companies LLC to retail investors.

Woodbridge collapsed into bankruptcy in December 2017. The SEC previously  charged the owner, the company and others of operating a $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme. Top sales agents were also accused.

The supplemental defendants, all 13, of selling more than $350 million of unregistered securities to about 4,400 investors. The defendants told the purchasers that the Notes were “safe” Investments.

December 25, 2018

According to The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) former advisor Scott Kozak (Kozak). has been accused by his former firm and barred by FINRA over unapproved securities.  Kozak has four customer complaints on his record.

The charge was “selling away” securities, not approved by the broker Kozak was affiliated with. The activity occurred between July 2011 and March 2017. Kozak was associated previously with Cetera Advisors LLC (Cetera) in Highlands Ranch, Colorado.

A Ponzi scheme  is a financial scam where early investors are paid returns with money from later investors rather than legitimate investment returns. A big time Ponzi scheme occurred in Fla. recently. The most recent “huge Ponzi” was Bernard L. Madoff Securities, LLC, involving as much as $65 Billion. Well, this one was $1.2 Billion which is still bad enough.

A Villages, Florida, resident and four companies were charged in an enormous Ponzi scheme by the SEC for unlawfully selling securities of Woodbridge Group of Companies LLC to unsuspecting clients. The SEC previously charged the now bankrupt company, Knowles Systems, Inc., its principal and others with operating a  $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme.

One defendant is Lynette M. Robbins, a cosmetologist who lived with Theodore F. Leutz at 731 Evans Way in the Villages. The Wall Street Journal reported that Knowles Systems Inc. and Robbins, its chief executive and owner, was the highest earning agent for Woodbridge. A SEC report said she received at least $8.1 million in commissions. Other Florida-based defendants sold more than $243 million of its unregistered securities to about 1,600 retail investors.

According to the Financial Institutions Regulatory Authority, a complaint was filed in 2016 against broker Hank Mark Werner of Northport, New York, charging him with securities fraud for churning the account of his customer, a 77-year old blind widow. The FINRA complaint alleged that Werner churned the widow’s accounts over a three-year period. $243,000 in commissions were charged with $184,000 in losses.

Werner had been the elderly widow’s broker and that of her deceased blind husband for 21 years. After the customer’s husband passed away, Werner aggressively traded  traded the widow’s account to generate excessive commissions for himself. Werner exercised control over each account and recommended every trade. The widow customer followed  Werner’s recommendations. Because she was blind and severely debilitated, requiring in-home care, the customer relied completely on Werner to accurately report account activity and performance.

Churning involves unauthorized trading of any account for the purpose of generating commissions for the broker’s benefit. Many other factors are considered. Expert witnesses many times are called at hearing. Some if the components are control of the account by the broker, annual turnover and the commission to equity ratio. The Law offices of Anthony M. Abraham, Esq., PC  has pressed many claims of this nature. http://www.BrokerFraud.Net.  Here is a snapshot of interesting aspects of this case: