SEC Continues Record Crackdown But Does it Help Investors?

November 16th, 2012
by Daniel Carlson

Once again, it is record setting time at the SEC.  The United States Securities and Exchange Commission announced on Wednesday, November 14, 2012, that they have set yet another record in 2012 in their enforcement actions against broker-dealers, investment advisers, and senior executives involved in fraud.

Seal of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commi...

Touting examples of their ramped up efforts, the SEC highlighted two cases – one against Oppenheimer Funds, which to have misled the investing public in funds that suffered dramatically during the financial crisis, and another against UBS Financial Services of Puerto Rico and several of its executives for disclosure violations in regards to the sales of mutual funds.

Despite the news of record setting enforcement activity, it is rare for damaged investors to ever be made whole as the result of an SEC enforcement action.  While the SEC may impose fines and penalties against the brokers and companies, individual investors are left with no other avenue but to pursue their grievances in private litigation either in court or binding arbitration.

At Carlson Law Firm, we are experts in protecting investors’ rights.  We offer a free evaluation of your case and based on that review, a variety of fee agreements.  We can help you recover what the SEC cannot, with the goal of making you whole again.

Tags: , ,
Posted in Securities Litigation | Comments (0)

Ray Lucia San Diego Investment Advisor charged by SEC – Buckets of Money?

September 14th, 2012
by Daniel Carlson

The Securities and Exchange Commission today accused local San Diego radio talk show host and bestselling author Ray Lucia of misleading potential investors in regards to his investment strategy called “Buckets of Money.”

Seal of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commi...

Seal of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The SEC alleges that Lucia misled potential investors when he told them that his method had been “back-checked” using historical data from past bear markets and that the investors money would be safe and grow.  According to the SEC, the investment program failed to account for fees and included artificially lowered inflation rates.   When historically accurate rates of inflation were used, a 1973 investor would have run out of money by 1989, the SEC said, a far cry from the return claimed by Lucia.

The SEC said Lucia and his company “have admitted during the SEC’s investigation that the only testing that actually performed were some calculations that Lucia made in the 1990’s – copies of which no longer exist – and two two-page spreadsheets.”  Lucia was aware that using the undervalued inflation rate would “make the results look more favorable for the Buckets of Money Strategy,” according to the SEC.

In addition to barring Lucia from making misleading claims, the SEC’s Order instituting Administrative and Cease-and-Desist Proceedings seeks financial penalties and “other remedial actions.”

Lucia quickly posted a passionate defense to the SEC allegations on his website on Wednesday afternoon, stressing that the investigation was a civil matter and not a criminal case and that it involved something he had not used in over two years.  “I want to assure you that I intend to vigorously defend this absolutely meritless lawsuit and will seek an early trial,” said Lucia.

Despite the allegations, Lucia’s website is promoting a seminar to be held at The Hilton San Diego Resort & Spa on September 22nd, which will be co-hosted by actor and financial columnist Ben Stein, and former San Diego Mayor and current talk show host Roger Hedgecock.

Carlson Law Firm is reviewing potential claims against Ray Lucia and his affiliates.  To speak with an attorney regarding your, please call Carlson Law Firm 619-544-9300  for a free consultation.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Investment Fraud | Comments (0)

Investment Scams: How Vulnerable Are You?

September 5th, 2012
by Daniel Carlson

Although anyone can fall victim to financial fraud, some investors are more likely than others to be targeted by scam artists.

Logo

Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to a survey conducted by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Foundation, victims of investment fraud differ from non-victims in their financial behavior. Below are five of the top high-risk behaviors that they share. If you’re engaging in one or more of these behaviors, you’re placing a bull’s eye on your financial security and making yourself a potential target for fraudsters.

Five Behaviors That Make You a Target for Scam Artists

1.      Failing to Research Your Financial Advisor

Victims of investment fraud often know very little about their financial advisors. Failing to check your stockbroker’s licensing/registration credentials puts you at great risk of investment fraud. (And don’t forget to run a criminal background check on your broker, too!)

2.      Buying High-Risk Products

Investors who buy high-risk financial products such as futures, penny stocks, promissory notes and private foreign investments are more likely to be victims of investment fraud.

3.      Getting Financial Advice from Nonprofessionals

Taking investment advice from nonprofessionals (family members, friends, coworkers, etc.) is another high-risk behavior that victims of investment scams share.

4.      Falling for High-Pressure Sales Techniques

Victims of financial scam artists are more susceptible to high-pressure sales strategies than non-victims.  Pitches such as “You must act now!” are often taken at face value, rather than recognized as the aggressive sales tactics that they are.

5.      Attending Free Investment Seminars

Actively seeking out new investments also puts investors at risk. In fact, victims of investment fraud are much more likely than non-victims to attend free investment seminars, thus opening themselves up to potentially fraudulent investments.

If you believe that you have been the victim of investment fraud, contact the investment fraud attorney at Carlson Law today at 619-544-9300 for a free consultation.

Tags: , , , , , , ,
Posted in Investment Fraud | Comments (0)

Attention Facebook IPO Stock Fraud Victims: Private Arbitration May Be an Option

June 18th, 2012
by Daniel Carlson

In the Initial Public Offering (IPO) class action suits of the 1990s, individual shareholders claimed that underwriters pushed them to buy tech stocks, driving up prices for the benefit of institutional clients who then dumped their holdings when prices were high, netting huge profits which they shared with investment banks and leaving lone investors with deflated stocks and hefty financial losses.

It took until 2009 for the IPO class action suit to be settled for $586 million.

 

Have Individual Investors Been Screwed Over Once Again? Probably.

Facebook logo Español: Logotipo de Facebook Fr...

Facebook logo Español: Logotipo de Facebook Français : Logo de Facebook Tiếng Việt: Logo Facebook (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What did Wall Street learn from the IPO debacle of the ‘90s? Not much, apparently.

Instead of maintaining an even playing field for all investors, class action suits recently filed allege that Defendants involved in the Facebook IPO favored certain institutional players and “preferred investors,” with underwriters privately providing them with information regarding the earnings stream for Facebook —information that differed from that published in Facebook’s prospectus and available to the general investor.

Unsurprisingly, a steadily increasing number of lawsuits are being filed against Facebook and the banks that underwrote its IPO, with claims likely to top $100 million.

 

Should Individual Investors Pursue Separate Suits? It Depends.

If you’re an investor who has suffered financial loss due to the alleged Facebook IPO stock fraud, you may want to join a class action, or you may be able to pursue an individual claim depending on the facts on your case.  If you bought the Facebook IPO from Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America or one of the “preferred investors” allegedly tipped about Facebook lower revenue streams, a FINRA arbitration may be your best bet to recover your losses.

 

Contact Carlson Law to evaluate your claim.

Carlson Law is reviewing claims for investors and closely following the SEC, Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and congressional panels reviewing what happened in the IPO.

If you lost money due to Facebook IPO alleged stock fraud, contact Carlson Law today at 619-544-9300 to review your claim and advise you about your best opportunities for recovery.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Stock Fraud | Comments (0)

Merrill Lynch Defrauded Stockbroker Employees out of Deferred Compensation – Over 10 Million Awarded

June 1st, 2012
by Daniel Carlson

$10.2 awarded to former ML brokers; More lawsuits to follow

Two former Merrill Lynch (ML) stockbrokers have been awarded a total of $10.2 million by a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) arbitration panel in their suit against the firm for deferred compensation fraud.

Rubbish Art - Bank of America Merrill Lynch London

In a written report, the panel found ML guilty of breach of contract, negligence, fraud, and “intentional misconduct” in its handling of deferred compensation settlements.

The FINRA panel awarded Tamara Smolchek $4.3 million in compensatory damages plus $3.5 million in punitive damages. Meri Ramazio was awarded $875,000 in compensation for her losses and an additional $1.5 million in damages.

ML is appealing the decision.

More lawsuits in the offing

Approximately 3,000 stockbrokers left ML after the company was acquired by Bank of America in November 2008.  Not a single broker received vesting rights—despite ML’s deferred-compensation policy, which states that employees who leave the company for “good reason” are eligible for rights to the money in their tax-deferred accounts.

Needless to say, many more former ML brokers are now seeking compensation through the court system.

If you are a broker who was denied deferred compensation by Bank of America/ Merrill Lynch, contact the securities fraud attorney Daniel Carlson at Carlson Law today for a free consultation 619-544-9300.

Carlson Law Firm Website http://www.securities-fraud-attorney-san-diego.com/

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Negligent Misrepresentation | Comments (0)

Signs of Investment Fraud

May 30th, 2012
by Daniel Carlson

Investment fraud can happen to anyone. To protect against financial loss, it’s imperative that investors become active participants in their financial wellbeing, learning as much as they can about their investments, monitoring their portfolios diligently, and being alert for signs of investment fraud.  A few signs to watch for:

Sure Things
Financial advisors who guarantee that an investment will perform in a certain way, i.e. often provide high returns in a short time, should immediately be suspect. No investment is a sure thing; all of them carry risks. Any broker who tells an investor otherwise is being less than honest.

Undue Sales Pressure
Trustworthy brokers do not pressure clients into investments. Even if no fraud is involved, such behavior is inappropriate. Investors should avoid stockbrokers who urge them to make snap decisions, tell them that they must “act now,” or apply other heavy-handed sales techniques.

Inexplicable Complexity
Investors should not sink their money into investments they cannot comprehend. All aspects of any investment, including how it works and what its risks are, should be understandable. Investments that a broker claims are successful because of their intricacy—a complexity the financial analyst cannot explain—should be considered suspect investments.

Consistent Pay Outs
All investments, even those that are low risk, go up and down in value. That’s their nature. When returns remain unnaturally consistent or increase in value despite negative economic conditions, that’s a red flag that an investor may have

The unsustainable geometric progression of a c...

The unsustainable geometric progression of a classic pyramid scheme, from Securities and Exchange commission report on pyramid schemes. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

invested in a pyramid scheme, a ponzi scheme or some other investment fraud scheme.

Account Discrepancies
Unauthorized activity, missing money and other problems with a client’s account statement may simply be mistakes. However, they could also be signs that the broker is churning the account or engaging in some other type of investment fraud. To lessen this possibility, investors should monitor their account statements.

Unlicensed Brokers
Investors who do business with unlicensed brokers run a high risk of fraud. Investment scams are often perpetrated by unlicensed brokers who sell financial products that have not been registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or issued by a legitimate agency. Unregistered products may include stocks, bonds, notes and hedge funds, among others.

Missing Documentation
Just as investors should avoid doing business with unlicensed brokers, they should also avoid making investments that have little or no documentation. Lack of documentation is a sign that an investment may be unregistered. For instance, if a mutual fund or a stock has no prospectus, or a bond has no offering circular, it might be an unregistered security. Likewise, stocks that do not have stock symbols may be unregistered.

Investor should also keep in mind, however, that not all legitimate investment products are registered with the SEC. Regulation D products, for example, are exempt from registration, as are those issued by the federal government or a state or municipal government.

If you think that you have been the victim of investment fraud, contact Carlson Law today for a free consultation at 619-544-9300. A securities fraud attorney may be able to help you recover some or all of your financial losses.

Tags: , , , , , ,
Posted in Investment Fraud | Comments (0)

Linsco Private Ledger Found Liable for Failure to Supervise in Stockbroker Malpractice

May 10th, 2012
by Daniel Carlson

Oregon’s Division of Financial and Corporate Securities (DFCS) found LPL Financial liable for failure to supervise. Specifically, the firm failed to adequately oversee one of its financial analysts, an unscrupulous broker who committed financial elder abuse, pushing high-risk investments to elderly clients (and those mentally incompetent to make investment choices).

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 02: Mickey Rooney testi...

WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 02: Mickey Rooney testifies during the Justice For All: Ending Elder Abuse, Neglect & Financial Exploitation hearing at the Senate Dirksen Building on March 2, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

Elder Financial Abuse

Jack Kleck, formerly a branch manager for LPL Financial’s La Grande, Oregon office, was found guilty of selling risky gas and oil partnerships to 30+ clients, the majority of them over 70 and in poor health. The investments were inappropriate to the clients’ financial goals—definitely not the safe investments Kleck characterized them as.

Charges & Penalties

For not adequately overseeing the actions of Kleck, for failing to implement its own oversight procedures and company policies, and for other violations of securities laws, LPL was fined $100,000 by the Oregon DFCS.

The penalty for Kleck? A fine of $30,000—and he can no longer practice as a stockbroker in Oregon.

LPL & Stockbroker Malpractice

Since the investigation, LPL Financial claims it has beefed up its oversight policies and procedures, is increasing the number of employees who review sales transactions, has administered tougher exams at their branch offices, and is implementing other practices to  improve compliance with the law.

Help for Victims of Elder Financial Abuse 

Elderly investors are often the victims of financial elder abuse similar to what happened at LPL.  Specific laws exist to protect the elderly from this type of abuse, and those laws provide for treble or multiple damages as well as attorney fees.  States throughout the nation are examining financial firms and their brokers to ensure that they are dealing with elderly clients in an appropriate manner.  Meanwhile, it is imperative that elderly investors be extremely careful when they do business with financial advisors, brokers and brokerage firms.

If you think that you’ve been the victim of financial elder abuse, contact a securities fraud lawyer at Carlson Law immediately for a free consultation 619-544-9300.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Fiduciary Duty Breach | Comments (0)

Goldman Exec’s Op-Ed NY Times Article Airs Investment Banking Firms Self Interest at its Clients’ Expense

April 9th, 2012
by Daniel Carlson

In a recent New York Times editorial, Goldman Sachs exec Greg Smith voiced his opinion on the real impetus behind stockbroker malpractice: the avarice of brokerage firms.  According to Smith, the greed of investment banking firms is so great that it impels them to put extreme pressure on stockbrokers to sell with the best interest of the firm in mind — without regard for the financial wellbeing of clients.  As stated by Mr. Smith:”My clients have a total asset base of more than a trillion dollars. I have always taken a lot of pride in advising my clients to do what I believe is right for them, even if it means less money for the firm. This view is becoming increasingly

Logo of The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. Category...

Logo of The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. Category:Goldman Sachs (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

unpopular at Goldman Sachs. Another sign that it was time to leave.”

 

Smith is not alone in his opinion, which is seconded by others in the world of finance, including Rall Capital Management’s Bob Rall, a fee-only advisor, and Russell G. Thornton, a VP at Wealthcare Capital.  According to Rall, wirehouse firms do not focus on yield to the client (YTC). Instead, they focus on selling their proprietary investment products. And when a broker focuses on his or her own interests and the interests of brokerage firms rather than on client interests, the result is often a breach of fiduciary duty and stockbroker malpractice.     

 What Is a Wirehouse Broker?

A wirehouse broker works for a wirehouse brokerage firm (a national firm that has numerous branches). Ordinarily, wirehouse brokers are full-service stockbrokers who offer clients an array of services, from researching investment opportunities to buying and selling products.  They are supposed to function as fiduciaries, not as sales reps for their firms.

 

Because wirehouse brokers have access to the numerous resources of the major brokerage house for which they work, including the house’s own investment products, they have long been considered superior to independent brokers—that is, until the financial debacle of 2007-08, which was precipitated by stockbroker fraud and the unethical practices of firms in pushing their proprietary investment products above more suitable client options.

Does Your Broker Put Your Financial Wellbeing First?

Today more than ever, investors must carefully examine the performance of their financial advisors in order to avoid investment loss.

Is your broker behaving more like a sales rep for a brokerage house than a fiduciary who is committed to your financial wellbeing? Is your broker aggressively pushing a firm’s proprietary products? Or is he or she offering sound investment advice based upon research and your unique needs and financial situation?

If you believe you have suffered investment loss due to a breach of fiduciary duty on the part of your broker, contact a stockbroker fraud lawyer today at Carlson Law, (619) 544-9300.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Broker Fraud, Fiduciary Duty Breach, Investment Fraud, Negligent Misrepresentation, Securities Arbitration, Securities Fraud, Securities Law, Securities Litigation, Stock Fraud, Stock Loss | Comments (0)

Boogie Investment Group to Call It Quits

March 15th, 2012
by Daniel Carlson

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) recently received a withdrawal request from Boogie Investment Group, a small brokerage house that sold failed Provident Royalties private placements to its investors. Of the 52 brokerage houses that sold Provident private placements, Boogie Investment is the eleventh to call it quits this year.

Logo

Image via Wikipedia

Private placements amounting to roughly $410K were sold by Boogie, whose revenues dropped from 1.2M three years ago to $422K this last fiscal year. But reduced earnings aren’t the only reason Boogie is exiting the brokerage business. The company has been hard hit by securities litigation. The firm is not only fighting a class action suit comprised of investors to whom they sold Provident private placements, but it’s also contending with a suit filed by those who bought Provident Shale Royalties products. Moreover, Boogie is combating other lawsuits that are unrelated to its sale of Provident Royalties private placements.

FINRA has forcefully dealt with brokerage firms as well individual brokers who sold private placements, alleging that they failed in their due diligence, both in investigating the placements and in assessing their suitability for their clients.

Other defunct brokers who sold Provident Royalties private placements include Workman Securities, Investlinc Securities/Meadowbrook, WFP Securities, Okoboji Financial, Matheson Securities, United Equity, CapWest, Private Asset Group Inc., Community Banker Securities LLC, E-Planning Securities Inc., Empire Financial, GunnAllen Financial and Barron Moore.

Have you incurred investment loss due to broker misconduct? Contact a stockbroker fraud lawyer in San Diego. It may be possible for you to recoup some or all of your losses. For a free consultation, contact Daniel Carlson, Esq. at Carlson Law 619-544-9300.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Fiduciary Duty Breach, Investment Fraud, Negligent Misrepresentation, Securities Arbitration, Securities Fraud, Securities Law | Comments (0)

McClellan Offers $1 M Settlement in Deloitte Insider Trading Case

February 7th, 2012
by Daniel Carlson

Annabel McClellan, the wife of Arnold McClellan, who was formerly the head of Deloitte Tax LP’s Mergers and Acquisitions, has settled a lawsuit

Seal of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commi...

Image via Wikipedia

alleging that she provided confidential information regarding mergers to family members.  If the judge accepts Annabel’s $1M settlement, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has agreed to drop comparable charges against her husband.

According to the Commission, Annabel gave confidential insider information to her sister, Miranda Sanders, and Miranda’s husband James, on at least seven occasions. The Sanders used the information to make trades that earned them millions of dollars. The SEC claims that James Sanders, who is the proprietor of a financial firm, not only used the tips for his own advantage but also to the benefit of his partners and customers, who also made millions. The SEC further alleges that James took positions with companies in the U.S. that Annabel told him were targeted for acquisition. According to Annabel, her husband was unaware that she was providing confidential information to her sister and brother-in-law.

By settling the lawsuit, Annabel is neither admitting nor denying the charges against her. However, she has pled guilty to lying to the SEC during their investigation of the insider trading scam.

Annabel and Arnold McClellan were first charged by the SEC in 2010 after investigations were conducted simultaneously by the SEC, the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Financial Services Authority (FSA).

Insider trading is breach of fiduciary duty on the part of a financial officer.
As such, it negatively affects the stock market in various ways. Most obviously, it hurts investor confidence. When a company’s confidential information is used for the benefit of a few, it may also harm the company, ultimately causing financial loss. When insider trader occurs, who is held responsible for this breach of trust? All of the parties involved. That includes the individual who passes the tip along and the person who receives it, as well as anyone who trades based upon illegally obtained insider information.

Are you are aware of an insider trading situation that has been detrimental to your financial welfare? If you feel that you are, contact a securities litigation attorney immediately. For a free consultation, contact security lawyer Dan Carlson of Carlson Law in San Diego today.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Securities Law | Comments (0)