Category Archives: Elder Financial Abuse

Mickey Long-Former VSR Financial Broker-DIscloses Numerous Customer Complaints Over Alternative Investments-Plano, TX

November  2017-Plano, Texas

According to public records former VSR Financial Services broker M. F. (Mickey) Long discloses a prior final regulatory event, 10 prior customer disputes that are final and 4 pending customer disputes. In addition Long discloses a prior regulatory matter that is final.

Three of the prior customer disputes were brought by Long’s customers while he was employed by VSR Financial Services and allege damages related to investments in real estate investment trusts (REITs), oil and gas, equipment leasing and promissory notes (alternative investments). Settlements paid by VSR Financial in those three cases are $196,500, $82,500 and $235,000.

The three pending cases against Long are all brought by customers of VSR Financial and relate to alternative investments such as REITs, oil and gas and equipment leasing. Damages sought in the four pending cases range from  $94,438 to $838,389. Claims alleged are highly unsuitable investments that are illiquid and that were overly concentrated.

In October 2016, the Texas State Securities Board (TSSB) entered a Disciplinary Order against M. F. (Mickey) Long II. 

The TSSB Order made certain findings with regard to Mr. Long’s business practices during the time he was employed by VSR Financial Services (6/2002-6/2016), including the following:

  • Long routinely recommended that VSR Financial clients invest in non-listed real estate investment trusts (REITs) and interests in exploratory drilling programs sold through private offerings (Alternative Investments)
  • Long recommended that a client of VSR Financial who was over 70 years of age invest in Alternative Investments at risk tolerance levels that were excessive.
  • Long did not have a reasonable basis to believe that the recommendations he made to invest in the Alternative Investments were suitable for this elderly client.

Long and and his new employer Calton & Associates agreed that so long as Mr. Long is registered with Calton he will not sell or recommend the purchase of any Alternative Investments.  In addition, Long and Calton agreed that Calton will establish a heightened supervision plan for the supervision of Mr. Long’s practice for two years. Mr Long’s registration with TSSB was suspended for 45 days as a part of the Order.

See this for prior posts on Mickey Long. 

VSR Financial’s Prior Issues with Alternative Investments

VSR Financial Services was fined $550,000 by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) in May 2013 in connection with the sale of alternative investments. In their findings, FINRA criticised VSR Financial for recommending high concentration levels of alternative investments in customer accounts and for its lack of supervision over the use of consolidated reports prepared by brokers and provided to customers. VSR Financial announced that they were winding down their brokerage business and transferring many of their brokers and customer accounts  to an affiliated entity Summit Brokerage Services in the fall of 2016.

See this for prior posts on VSR Financial Services.

Alternative investments include non publicly traded real estate investment trusts (REITS) , hedge funds, real estate, commodities and derivatives contracts and, managed futures. It may also include art, wine, antiques, coins or stamps. These investments tend to be complex, illiquid, nontransparent, hard to value and expensive. Many of the alternative investments sold over recent years are not traded on any public market making them difficult to value and even more difficult to liquidate if cash is needed.

Long was employed by VSR FInancial  Services from 6/2002-7/2016. He has been registered with Calton & Associates since 6/2016. Long discloses a business affiliation with Wealth Preservation Consultants and  First FInancial Services Group.

If you have losses in an account in an account handled by Mickey Long or  another VSR Financial Services broker, contact us to discuss how you may be able to recover damages for those losses.

The Law Offices of Robert H. Rex, P.C.  , with offices in Boca Raton, FL,  and  Austin, TX,   provides representation to  investors  nationwide who are seeking recovery of investment losses due to the negligence or fraud of stockbrokers and broker dealers. If you have questions about how your account has been handled, call to speak with an experienced securities attorney.

Most cases handled on a contingent fee basis meaning that you do not pay legal fees unless we are successful.

Nationwide Representation

TollFree: 877-224-3199

Florida-561 391 1900 

Texas-512-329-2870

San Antonio Based Investment Professionals Inc. Sanctioned for Unsuitable Advice

October 2017-San Antonio, Texas

San Antonio, Texas, based stock brokerage firm Investment Professionals, Inc.  (IPI)  recently was ordered by William F. Galvin of the Massachusetts Securities Division to pay a $100,000 fine and offer restitution to four senior clients who were allegedly sold unsuitable investment products from offices on the premises of local financial institutions.

In addition the settlement order requires IPI to retain an independent compliance consultant to review the firm’s policies governing supervision of their Massachusetts-registered financial consultants and the sales of securities to persons over 65.

In November 2016, Massachusetts regulators charged IPI with using high pressure sales contests and selling unsuitable investment products to senior citizens who were depositors at community banks.

“This case highlights the dangers of aggressive sales culture that leaves older customers exposed to pressure to buy unsuitable investments,” Secretary Galvin said. “This is especially true when the broker dealer is operating out of a community bank.”

Link to the Massachusetts Securities Division/ Investment Professionals Consent Order. 

In February 2017, without admitting or denying, Investment Professionals agreed to pay FINRA $125,000 and to the entry of findings that from 10/2011-10/2013 it executed 167 non-bona fide municipal transactions without a change of beneficial ownership and that the execution of seven of the transactions were pre -arranged. FINRA also found that IPI did not have written supervisory procedures applicable to trading in limited partnership accounts. FINRA Case 20120313632.

Investment Professionals, Inc., has been a FINRA member since 1992 and operates over 300 branch offices and over 360 employees nationwide.

FINRA records disclose that Investment Professionals, Inc. has 15 prior final regulatory events.

If you have questions about an account handled by Investment Professionals, Inc. call to learn your options.

Rex Securities Law , with offices in Boca Raton, FL,  and  Austin, TX,   provides representation to  investors  nationwide who are seeking recovery of investment losses due to the negligence or fraud of stockbrokers and broker dealers. If you have questions about how your account has been handled, call to speak with an experienced securities attorney.

Most cases handled on a contingent fee basis meaning that you do not pay legal fees unless we are successful.

Nationwide Representation

Rex Securities Law

TollFree: 877-224-3199

Florida-561 391 1900 

Texas-512-329-2870

Andrew “Todd” Yocum Investigation Continues-The VIllages, FL

The Villages Florida

UPDATE OCTOBER 2017FINRA records disclose that Andrew “Todd” Yocum has two prior final regulatory matters resulting in his bar from the industry. There are 10 currently pending customer disputes and 23 prior customer disputes that are final.

In the bulk of the customer disputes, the customers allege an overconcentration of oil and gas related securities.

Here is a sampling of some of the 23 prior cases that have been settled:

  • In 2/2017 a customer of Morgan Stanley was paid $67,500 to resolve allegations that Yocum made unsuitable recommendations in the energy sector 2014-1015.
  • In 8/2017 a Morgan Stanley customer was paid $75,000 to resolve allegations that Yocum over-concentrated their portfolio with unsuitable investments. FINRA Case 17-0049.
  • IN 8/2016 a customer of Morgan Stanley was paid $35,975 to resolve allegations that from March 2012-September 2015 Yocum made unsuitable recommendations.

FINRA Alleges Yocum Recommended Unsuitable Energy Investments to Seniors

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) is the agency that licenses and regulates stockbrokers and brokerage firms. FINRA requires brokers and brokerage firms to report customer complaints and disputes as well as regulatory sanctions. Customers of broker dealers who have a dispute, such as a claim for account losses , are entitled to file an arbitration proceeding against the firm and/or the broker to recover damages. FINRA entered a permanent bar against Yocum in May 2016 after he refused to appear for FINRA on-the-record testimony in connection with an investigation into whether he effected unauthorized transactions, exercised discretion without written authorization, and recommended unsuitable concentrated purchases of energy sector securities to senior investors.

Florida Securities Regulators Find That Yocum Executed Unauthorized Trades

In 3/2017 the Florida Office of Financial Regulation filed an Administrative Complaint alleging violations of standards of commercial honor and principles of trade; suitability; and placing trades in client accounts without authorization. Yocum was barred from the securities industry by FINRA in May 2017.

The Florida regulators found that Yocum executed trades that were not authorized, made trade recommendations that were not suitable, and failed to execute trades by the end of the day on the date the client requested. Yocum was ordered to cease and desist and be permanently barred from submitting an application for license or registration under Florida Chapter 517.

 

Andrew Yocum was employed by Morgan Stanley and worked in their office located at 832 Lake Sumter Landing, The Villages, Florida, until he was discharged in October 2015 for “Allegations concerning acting on verbal discretion” according to FINRA records.

We continue to evaluate potential cases for former clients of Todd Yocum. Call to discuss your options for recovery. Cases handled on a contingent fee basis meaning that you do not pay legal fees unless we are successful.

Rex Securities Law , with offices in Boca Raton, FL,  and  Austin, TX,   provides representation to  investors  nationwide who are seeking recovery of investment losses due to the negligence or fraud of stockbrokers and broker dealers. If you have questions about how your account has been handled, call to speak with an experienced securities attorney.

Nationwide Representation

Rex Securities Law

TollFree: 877-224-3199

Florida-561 391 1900 

Texas-512-329-2870

Study by Regulators Confirms That Elderly Are Most Vulnerable to Financial Abuse/Fraud

August 2017

The North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) recently released a study showing that financial fraud on the elderly has increased, despite increased awareness and regulatory attempts to protect senior citizens.

Key findings in the study, which can be accessed here, are:

  • Most cases are undetected until it is too late.
  • Awareness is increasing, but fraud is not decreasing.
  • The industry is not doing enough proactively to protect its senior citizen customers.

In a prior survey of more than 60 brokerage firms, it was found that over half (54%) of the firms did not have a formal policy defining senior citizens and less than half (41%) had developed a form for customers to identify an emergency or trusted contact person.

Findings confirm that those ages 70 and older are the most vulnerable to financial fraud.

If you have questions about how your account has been handled or suspect that the account of a senior citizen relative or friend has been abused, call for a no charge consultation with an experienced securities attorney.

Rex Securities Law , with offices in Boca Raton, FL,  and  Austin, TX,   provides representation to  investors  nationwide who are seeking recovery of investment losses due to the negligence or fraud of stockbrokers and broker dealers. If you have questions about how your account has been handled, call to learn about your options.

Most cases handled on a contingent fee basis meaning that you do not pay legal fees unless we are successful.

Rex Securities Law

TollFree: 877-224-3199

Florida-561 391 1900 

Texas-512-329-2870

SEC Files Action vs. FL and TN Oil and Gas Deal Scammers

August 2017-Ft. Lauderdale, FL/ Gallatin, TN

The Securities and Exchange Commission charged two men from Tennessee and a man from Florida with allegedly defrauding investors by false promises of high returns from an oil drilling investment.

The SEC Complaint, filed in Savannah, GA, alleges that David R. Greenlee and David A. Stewart, Jr. orchestrated a $15 million scheme through a network of salesmen who raised money from investors who were promised profits of 15-55% per year for decades on wells that would use enhanced recovery techniques to boost production.

Neither Greenlee nor Stewart was registered to sell investments and they routinely used fake names , like “Dave Johnson”, when speaking with investors in order to hide their past criminal records. According to the SEC, only a small fraction of the money raised was actually used as intended.

The SEC alleges that Richard “Ric” Underwood helped draft brochures and oversaw a boiler room sales team of telemarketers in Florida who solicited victims nationwide.

The U.S. Attorneys Office for the Southern District of Georgia has instituted criminal charges in a parallel action.

Companies listed by the SEC as being used in the scam include:

  • Tennstar Energy
  • Black Gold Resources (BRG)
  • Southern Energy Group

Other individuals involved, but not named defendants, per the SEC complaint are Robert Dorrance, 60, of Gallatin, TN, and Jared G. Forrester, 33, of Glasgow, KY.

If you invested in this scheme at the suggestion of a licensed stock broker , you may be able to recover damages from the broker’s employer. Call for details.

Rex Securities Law , with offices in Boca Raton, FL,  and  Austin, TX,   provides representation to  investors  nationwide who are seeking recovery of investment losses due to the negligence or fraud of stockbrokers and broker dealers. If you have questions about how your account has been handled, call to speak with an experienced securities attorney.

Most cases handled on a contingent fee basis meaning that you do not pay legal fees unless we are successful.

Rex Securities Law

TollFree: 877-224-3199

Florida-561 391 1900 

Texas-512-329-2870

Wedbush Securities Ordered to Pay Customer $1.8M For Elder Abuse-Los Angeles, CA

Los Angeles, CA-July 2017

A Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) arbitration panel comprised of three public arbitrators ordered Wedbush Securities to pay two former customers (husband and wife) compensatory damages of $250,000. In addition the arbitration panel, who found that Wedbush subjected the couple to elder abuse,  awarded punitive damages of over $1 million and attorney fees of $277,000 pursuant to the California Elder Abuse and Adult Civil Protective Act, interest and costs.

The former customers alleged a number of causes of action, including unsuitable recommendations, failure to supervise the broker, misrepresentation and elder abuse in connection with investments in long term municipal bonds and structured certificates of deposit. Dancy, et al vs. Wedbush Securities, FINRA Case #16-0847.

FINRA ARBITRATION

Arbitration is similar to going to court, however it is generally less costly and a shorter process than court litigation. Most cases are resolved in about 12-14 months. If you have losses in your brokerage account which you believe are the result of negligent or fraudulent advice given to you by the broker, or if you believe your broker has made trades in your account without your permission (unauthorized trading) call to learn how you may be able to recover damages through FINRA arbitration.

Rex Securities Law , with offices in Boca Raton, FL,  and  Austin, TX,   provides representation to  investors  nationwide who are seeking recovery of investment losses due to the negligence or fraud of stockbrokers and broker dealers. If you have questions about how your account has been handled, call to speak with an experienced securities attorney.

Most cases handled on a contingent fee basis meaning that you do not pay legal fees unless we are successful.

Nationwide Representation

Rex Securities Law

TollFree: 877-224-3199

Florida-561 391 1900 

Texas-512-329-2870

SEC Charges 13 with Fraud Boiler Room Scam Targeting Senior Citizens-Long Island

July 2017

Thirteen individuals from two Long Island-based boiler rooms were charged with securities fraud by the Securities and Exchange Commission who alleges that they made hundreds of thousands of cold calls, many of which targeted senior citizens.

The SEC press release makes quite a few shocking allegations and demonstrates just how far the unscrupulous will go to take advantage of the general public, for example:

  • It is estimated that over $10 million was scammed from innocent and unknowing victims.
  • A boiler room salesman allegedly claimed that Walt Disney Co. was buying into a company that would cause the penny stock he was touting to soar.
  • Victims were harassed and intimidated by sale personnel…One allegedly told a victim “Do you have any rope at home? If so tie a know and hang yourself or get a gun and blow your head off”.
  • The telemarketers would instruct victims to place trades and a specific price and number of shares and then the scammers would place opposing sell orders to dump their own shares.

Scott W. Friestad, Associate Director of the SEC’s Enforcement Division, added, “The defendants allegedly used boiler rooms and high-pressure sales tactics to swindle seniors into investing their life savings in microcap securities they were secretly manipulating for their own profit.  But, through a combination of technology and innovative investigative approaches, we were able to unravel the alleged scheme and prevent further investor harm.”

Defendants named in the SEC complaint are:

  • POWERTRADERSPRESS.COM, INC.
  • ELITE STOCK RESEARCH, INC.
  • ERIK MATZ
  • RONALD HARDY
  • ANTHONY VASSALLO
  • STEPHANIE LEE
  • JEFFREY CHARTIER
  • LAWRENCE D. ISEN
  • ROBERT GLECKMAN,\
  • MICHAEL WATTS
  • BRIAN HEEPKE
  • DENNIS J. VERDEROSA
  • EMIN COHEN
  • SERGIO RAMIREZ
  • ASHLEY ANTOS

If you were recommended to deal with any of these individuals by a registered stock broker, you may be able to recover damages from that broker’s employer. Call for details.

Rex Securities Law , with offices in Boca Raton, FL,  and  Austin, TX,   provides representation to  investors  nationwide who are seeking recovery of investment losses due to the negligence or fraud of stockbrokers and broker dealers. If you have questions about how your account has been handled, call to speak with an experienced securities attorney.

Most cases handled on a contingent fee basis meaning that you do not pay legal fees unless we are successful.

Nationwide Representation

Rex Securities Law

TollFree: 877-224-3199

Florida-561 391 1900 

Texas-512-329-2870