Category Archives: VIrginia SCC Division of Securities and Retail Franchising

Investigation of NEXT Financial Group RE: Misappropriation of Customer Funds-Houston, TX

September 2018

In connection with a currently pending lawsuit, we are investigating Houston, TX-based broker dealer NEXT Financial Group.

Publicly available records disclose a number of recent complaints by customers of  NEXT Financial  alleging  that their funds have been wrongfully converted by  NEXT Financial Group brokers, including the following:

  • Heidi Wivolin-In February 2018, Heidi Wivolin who was employed in the NEXT Financial Group office in Manalapan, FL, from 2009-2014 pleaded guilty to mail and tax fraud and agreed to pay restitution of over $2.5 million. On May 23, 2018, Wivolin was sentenced to two years in prison. See this for details. 
  • Joshua Ray Abernathy-In September 2017, NEXT Financial Group entered into a settlement agreement with Virginia Securities regulators which included a fine of $50,000 and costs of $10,000 for failing to properly supervise their former broker Joshua Abernathy, who had confessed to securities fraud and misappropriation of over $442,000 in customer funds.
  • Tye Williams-September 2016- Frisco, TX-based NEXT Financial Group broker Williams was barred from the securities industry by FINRA in connection with an investigation regarding a customer complaint that he had converted over $1 million from the customer’s account from 2004-2014.  . See this for more details.
  • Eduardo Diaz-Ocean Springs, MS. In June 2016, Diaz, who pleaded guilty to wire fraud,  was sentenced to 70 months, fined $15,000 and ordered to pay restitution of over $640,000 to his victims which include a 70 year old widow.
  • James McGilvrey-San Antonio, TX-Charged with Theft from The Elderly, sentenced to 20 years in state prison, fined $10,000 and ordered to pay over $1.9 million in restitution. See this for more detail.
  • Douglas P. Simanski-Altoona, PA-In June 2016, Simanski, without admitting or denying the findings, consented to a permanent bar from the securities industry and entry of findings that he failed to provide documents and information related to an investigation into allegations related to the conversion of funds. FINRA Case 2016049621301.
  • Gwendolyn M. Berry , of Dallas, TX, was associated with NEXT Financial group from 2009-2015 as a non-registered fingerprint person working as a non-registered assistant and bookkeeper for a Series & General Securities Representative and Series 24 General Securities Principal. After initiating an investigation into Berry regarding possible misappropriation and mismanagement of customer assets, FINRA repeatedly requested that Berry produce documents and information. Berry failed to produce the documents and information and was barred from association with any FINRA regulated broker-dealer in any capacity in April 2016. FINRA AWC No. 2015047059701. TheUS Attorney’s office reports  that in February 2018, Berry admitted that from 2008-2014 she stole $1.8 million from a family for whom she provided bookkeeping services. She was sentenced to 51 months in federal prison.
  • Patrick J. Gildea– of Wilkes-Barre, PA-discharged by NEXT Financial 12/2008 as a result of a customer complaint alleging misrepresentation and theft in connection with a municipal bearer bond transaction.

The official FINRA regulatory records for NEXT Financial Group disclose 19 prior regulatory events including a recent $750,000 fine by FINRA for supervisory failures. See this for details.

If you have information you believe would be helpful to our investigation please contact us. If you have an account with NEXT Financial Group that you believe has been mishandled, contact us 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

 

Erryn Michael Barkett-Former NEXT FInancial Broker-Discloses Sanctions and Customer Disputes Over Unregistered Securities-The Woodlands, TX

February 2017-The Woodlands, TX and Fincastle, VA

According to publicly available records Erryn Michael Barkett , (CRD# 4102279) ,  a  stockbroker who is employed by LPL Financial, disclose that he was sanctioned by the Virginia State Corporation Commission who alleged that he sold unsuitable and unregistered securities and omitted material information in the sale of those securities causing investors to lose $330,000.

Barkett was ordered to pay restitution of $15,000.

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. In addition brokers are required to disclose certain financial matters such as personal bankruptcies, judgments and liens.

Public records disclose that  Barkett’s prior employer  NEXT Financial Group paid over $310,000 to settle the claims of four customers who alleged that Barkett sold them fraudulent unregistered products involving structured military pension investments.

In pending FINRA Case 17-0132 a customer of NEXT Financial Group is seeking damages of $310,000 and alleges that between 2009 and 2013 Barkett recommended that they invest in various fraudulent companies and recommended nearly $650,000 in illiquid and poor performing alternative investments, REITs and annuities.

If you have questions about an account in an account handled by Erryn Michael Barkett, contact us to discuss your legal 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

Kirsten Hawkins of Staunton, VA, Pleads Guilty to Wire Fraud

January 16, 2015-Lynchberg, Virginia

The US Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia announced that Kirsten Flynn Hawkins, 45, of Staunton, VA, pled guilty to three counts of wire fraud in connection with wrongfully taking money from a customer while working as a financial advisor at “Bank One”.

According to FINRA records Hawkins was most recently registered with Suntrust Investment Services  from    1/2003-12/2014.

If you have losses in an account handled by Hawkins, contact us to find out how you may be able to recover damages.

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

Virginia Securities Regulators Warn of “High Return” Scam

December 5, 2014

The Virginia State Corporation Commission Division of Securities and Retail Franchising recently issued an alert to investors warning of the risks of “pie in the sky”, “too good to be true” rates of returns on high yield investment programs. Follow this link to view the alert on the official Virginia SCC website.

The alert “High-Yield Investment Programs- Don’t Get Roped In” warns investors to be wary of current offerings appearing on the internet or on social media sites since they are often Ponzi schemes sold by unlicensed individuals.

The most notable characteristic of these schemes is the promise of very high returns at little to no risk to the investor.

Warning signs are:

  • The promise of high daily, weekly or monthly returns.
  • An offer from the company to pay “referral fees” to investors for bringing in additional investors.
  • The use of social media to spread the word and praise the program.
  • The promoter provides very few details about who runs the company and how profits are generated.
  • The promoter may require that the investor open an e-currency account to invest. E-currency accounts are not licensed as a money transmitter.

Rex Securities Law , located in Boca Raton, FL, 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

561 391 1900