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Fight Investment Fraud

Greco & Greco's lawyers represent investors to recover losses caused by securities fraud, churning, lack of suitability, negligence, sales of unregistered securities, unauthorized trading, and other misconduct by stock brokers, investment advisors, financial planners and their firms.

An all-public arbitration panel of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc. has awarded five clients of UBS Financial Services more than $521,000 in compensatory damages in a case related to the clients' investments in Puerto Rican bonds and closed-end bond funds.

The clients, all residents of Puerto Rico, claimed UBS violated the Puerto Rico Uniform Securities Act and engaged in securities fraud, common law fraud and constructive fraud, in addition to breaching its fiduciary duty and negligently supervising its personnel.

The clients originally asked for compensatory damages in the amount of $840,000 plus punitive damages, interest, costs, expert witness fees, Finra fees and attorneys' fees. All were denied by the panel.

Compensatory damages in the following amounts were awarded to the following clients: Hector E. Rodriguez-Lopez, $87,411; Myrna L. Rivera Marengo, $19,221; Angel M. Cruz Colon and Carmen Ortiz Nevarez, $181,989, as well as an additional $5,056 to Ms. Ortiz Nevarez; William Rodriguez Reyes and Betzaida Hernandez, $223,814, plus $3,575 to Ms. Hernandez.

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A FINRA arbitration panel issued an award of damages to Greco & Greco clients against UBS of Puerto Rico on February 23, 2018. The arbitration involved multiple Puerto Rico customers of UBS who had been invested primarily in UBS Puerto Rico Closed-End Mutual Funds and Puerto Rico Bonds.

The award, totaling $521,075.00 in damages, was significant because most of the damages were incurred in investments that UBS claimed were conservative (the Puerto Rico AAA Portfolio Bond Fund and COFINA bonds), and UBS further unsuccessfully claimed that the customers had not lost any money because of the interest/dividends they had earned over the years in the investments.

As set out in more detail at Greco & Greco’s website (http://www.securities-lawyers.net/ubs-puerto-rico) the UBS Puerto Rico Closed-End Funds (CEFs) were high risk investments which used leverage (a speculative investment technique) and which did not have a market (they were traded by UBS’s trading desk but UBS had the ability to stop trading of the funds at any time).

Greco & Greco provides free attorney consultations regarding potential cases involving UBS, Puerto Rico Closed-End Funds, and Puerto Rico bonds. Please contact us here: http://securities-lawyers.net/contact
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Investigation Regarding Terry Trenchard (aka Teryl Lee Trenchard) of Capitol Securities in Reston, Virginia.
Greco & Greco is currently investigating possible claims regarding a Reston, Virginia financial advisor, Terry Trenchard. Mr. Trenchard was registered to sell securities with Capitol Securities Management from 2009 to 2015, with Aegis Capital from 2003 to 2009, and with Voss & Co. from 2001 to 2003.

According to FINRA's Brokercheck, Mr. Trenchard was discharged by Capitol Securities in March, 2017 while "under investigation for fraud."

FINRA fined Prudential Annuities Distributors $950,000 this month for its failure to detect and prevent the theft by its agent, Travis Wetzel, of almost $1,300,000 from a customer's variable annuity.  The FINRA Letter of Acceptance, Waiver, and Consent may be found here.  

Mr. Wetzel, who was a former registered representative of LPL Financial, allegedly submitted multiple forged wire transfer requests from the variable annuity, to be paid to a third party account in Mr. Wetzel's wife's maiden name.

As set out in this SEC Order from an Administrative Law Judge (https://www.sec.gov/alj/aljdec/2016/id1033jeg.pdf), Dawn Bennett has been barred from the securities industry by the SEC. Dawn Bennett was a Washington DC area advisor who was previously registered to sell securities with Western International Securities.

Judge Grimes also imposed over one million dollars of fines and disgorgement against Ms. Bennett. The findings in the above Order included the following:

"Respondents repeatedly overstated their AUM [Assets Under Management] by at least $1.5 billion in Barron’s magazine, on a radio show hosted by Bennett, and in various other advertisements and communications with existing and prospective clients to create the impression that Respondents were larger and more successful players in the industry than was actually the case."

(en Español) Reclamaciones de Fondos de Bonos de UBS Puerto Rico

UBSs Puerto Rico Closed End Funds

Since 1995, UBS has been the underwriter of fourteen Puerto Rico closed-end funds (CEFs) with a total market capitalization of approximately $4 billion. UBS has also been the underwriter and dominant market maker for nine co-managed Puerto Rico closed-end funds with more than $1 billion in total market capitalization. 

The UBS CEFs include the following funds:

FINRA, a regulator of the securities industry, recently issued a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver, and Consent (AWC) regarding former FSC Securities Corporation broker, Andrew Corbman. Pursuant to the AWC, Mr. Corbman was suspended for one month from being registered with any FINRA firm.

FINRA recently entered a Letter of Acceptance Waiver and Consent regarding Capitol Securities Management Inc. regarding various alleged sales practice violations. The AWC can be found here:  http://disciplinaryactions.finra.org/Search/ViewDocument/63638 The issues addressed by the AWC involved supervision, its anti-money laundering program, and the alleged unsuitable sales of Reverse Convertible Notes. 

Greco & Greco is currently investigating possible claims regarding a Winchester, Virginia financial advisor, Randy Watts.  Mr. Watts operated under the name Watts Financial Group, and was registered to sell securities with Lincoln Financial Securities until November, 2015.

If you believe you may have a legal claim regarding investments with Mr. Watts or Lincoln Financial, please contact Scott Greco for a free consultation:  http://www.securities-lawyers.net/contact.html

The SEC and FINRA have brought charges and fined UBS relating to sales practices and supervision of their UBS Puerto Rico Bond Funds.

The SEC press release and Orders can be found here: SEC Press Release 2015-217. The SEC alleged that UBS Financial Services of Puerto Rico (UBSPR) failed to supervise its broker in relation to solicited loans used to purchase additional UBSPR closed end funds, while failing to disclose the risks of this strategy and misrepresenting the safety of the strategy. The SEC further alleged that UBSPR did not implement reasonable supervisory procedures and had inadequate systems in place to prevent and detect this wrongful conduct.

To date, FINRA Arbitration Panels have issued five awards relating to claims filed by investors against UBS and UBS of Puerto Rico regarding their Puerto Rico Closed End Bond Funds (CEFs). 

The SEC entered a Cease and Desist Order pursuant to an Offer of Settlement by H.D. Vest Investment Securities Inc.  The Order can be found here.

The SEC charged H.D. Vest with failing to implement proper supervisory procedures and policies that would have discovered and prevented a fraudulent scheme by one its brokers who wired monies out of customer accounts to an account controlled by the broker.  H.D. Vest further failed to monitor and preserve investment related emails from its brokers.

H.D. Vest was fined $225,000 and ordered to hire an independent consultant to recommend improvements to its supervisory systems.

Greco & Greco regularly represents investors in broker theft cases such as this.  Customers may attempt to recover their losses in FINRA arbitration and/or court by demonstrating firms’ failures to supervise, failure to follow up on red flags, and by arguing the firm is responsible for the acts of its agent under the legal theories of respondeat superior and vicarious liability.  Federal and state securities laws also mandate liability of control persons (such as brokerage firms) if certain requirements are met.  If you are a victim of broker theft, please contact one of our attorneys for a free consultation. Contact

As reported by the Virginia Pilot, Joshua Abernathy was charged in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia with mail fraud related to his alleged unlawful conversion of funds from customers.  Court documents filed by the government allege he defrauded and stole almost 1.3 million dollars from various customers in Texas and Virginia.  The government further alleged that he had many customers write checks to Omega Investment Group and he then converted funds for his personal use.

According to FINRA Brokercheck, Mr. Abernathy was registered with Next Financial from 2007 to 2012 and with The O.N. Equity Sales Company from 2013 to 2014.  FINRA barred him from the securities industry in February, 2015.

Greco & Greco regularly represents investors in “selling away” cases such as this where the broker sells unauthorized securities or converts funds away from his firm.  Customers may attempt to recover their losses in FINRA arbitration and/or court by demonstrating firms’ failures to supervise, failure to follow up on red flags, and by arguing the firm is responsible for the acts of its agent under the legal theories of respondeat superior and vicarious liability.  Federal and state securities laws also mandate liability of control persons (such as brokerage firms) if certain requirements are met.  If you are a victim of Mr. Abernathy, please contact one of our attorneys for a free consultation.

Ismail Elmas plead guilty on October 21, 2014 to a Count of Wire Fraud in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.  According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office press release (which can be found here), Mr. Elmas worked at Apple Financial Services, an affiliate of Apple Federal Credit Union during the time of the offense.

FINRA’s Brokercheck Report for Mr. Elmas states that Mr. Elmas was previously registered as a securities registered representative with CUNA Brokerage Services and CUSO Financial Services, both FINRA Broker-Dealers.  The Brokercheck Report states that he was terminated by CUSO because he “allegedly converted funds for personal use…”

The above press release references that Elmas admitted to misappropriating client funds given to him for legitimate investments, and that he defrauded more than 10 of his clients, many of whom were seniors and widows. 

Greco & Greco is currently investigating and pursuing claims against the parties involved in the Elmas case.  Greco & Greco regularly represents investors in “selling away” cases such as this where the broker sells unauthorized securities or converts funds away from his firm.  Customers may attempt to recover their losses in FINRA arbitration and/or court by demonstrating firms’ failures to supervise, failure to follow up on red flags, and by arguing the firm is responsible for the acts of its agent under the legal theories of respondeat superior and vicarious liability.  Federal and state securities laws also mandate liability of control persons (such as brokerage firms) if certain requirements are met.  If you are a victim of Mr. Elmas, please contact one of our attorneys for a free consultation.

A Settlement Order was recently issued by the State of Virginia (Bureau of Insurance and Division of Securities) against two insurance salespersons and their firm. The Order may be found here.

In the Order, the Virginia Regulators alleged as follows:

a.  “The Defendants, on multiple ocassions, sold over $2 million in unregistered securities in the form of qualified charitable gift annuities (“CGAs”) issued by 54 Freedom Foundation, Inc. (54 Freedom”) and promissory notes…”

b.  The brokers involved mischaracterized the investment risks involved with the investments and failed to conduct adequate due diligence.

c.  “Ultimately, principals of 54 Freedom misappropriated funds obtained through the sale of both 54 Freedom CGAs and Notes… As a result, all of the Defendants’ clients who purchased 54 Freedom CGAs or Notes appear to have lost their principal investments totaling over $2 million.”

Pursuant to the Order the salespersons surrendered their licenses to sell insurance and were required to pay monetary penalties.

If you were sold these investment products and wish to discuss your claims with an attorney, please contact Greco & Greco for a free consultation.