New fiduciary standards and stockbroker fraud

There is a battle going on right now in Congress that will affect stockbroker fraud cases in the years to come. Here are some updates and stories from various news sources to get you up-to-speed quickly.

  • Department of Labor Proposes Rule to Address Conflicts of Interest in Retirement Advice, Saving Middle-Class Families Billions of Dollars Every Year. Read more.
  • Simfa Overview: The Department of Labor (DOL) has proposed a change to the definition of fiduciary under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) that would expand the scope of those who become fiduciaries. Read more.
  • As DOL fiduciary clears latest hurdle, stockbrokers expect changes will be made. Read more.
  • New York Times – Why Investors Are Right to Be Distrustful. Read more.
  • What a fiduciary standard would do to stockbroker fraud. Read more.

Ultimately, if you believe you have been a victim of stockbroker frauds and need to talk to a securities fraud lawyer in Baltimore or Maryland, contact West & West immediately.

FINRA Bars Two Virginia FAs In Connection With Allegations Involving Converting Client Funds

Tammy Charlene Petersen formerly of Merrill Lynch and Kirsten Flynn Hawkins formerly of SunTrust Investment Services, Inc. both were barred from association with any FINRA member in any capacity in connection with allegations involving the conversion of client funds.

Tammy Petersen, formerly with Merrill Lynch in Carrollton, Virginia, consented to the bar and to the entry of findings that she converted approximately $107,378 from customers for her own use and benefit without the customer’s knowledge or consent.  For more information click here to see her Letter of Acceptance Waiver and Consent.

Kirsten Hawkins, formerly with SunTrust in Staunton, Virginia, consented to the bar and to the entry of findings that she failed to provide FINRA with documents and information in connection with an investigation into allegations that she converted approximately $500,000 from a customer.  For more information click here to see her Letter of Acceptance Waiver and Consent.

If you believe you may have been a victim of either of these brokers or have had other issues with Merrill Lynch or SunTrust please contact an Investment Fraud Attorney at West & West for a free initial consultation.

Former Stockbroker Apparently Staged Disappearance

In Florida, the Sun Sentinel reported that Richard Ohrn, 44, a former stock broker who disappeared while fishing in the Atlantic ocean a month ago, admitted that he staged his disappearance by abandoning the boat and driving to Albany, Georgia.

According to the article Ohrn was trying to escape legal issues, including a suit by a former employer alleging that he stole from customer accounts.  FINRA records indicate that he was named in a FINRA complaint in December 2014 alleging that he converted $15,250 from two elderly clients by forging signatures. According to FINRA records, Ohrn, who is not currently registered, was previously registered with Wells Fargo Advisors

If you believe you may have a claim against Mr. Ohrn or Wells Fargo Advisors contact the stockbroker fraud lawyers at West & West for a free initial consultation.

SEC and FINRA Launch National Senior Investor Initiative Examination Program

In releasing a report on the National Senior Investor Initiative, the SEC and FINRA have reaffirmed the paramount importance of protecting senior investors.

Andrew J. Bowden, OCIE’s Director, said, “Seniors are more dependent than ever on their own investments for retirement. Broker-dealers are developing and offering a variety of new products and services that are intended to generate higher yields in a low interest rate environment. It is imperative that firms are recommending suitable investments and providing proper disclosures regarding the related terms and risks.”

“With the dramatic increase in the population of our nation’s seniors, it is critical that securities regulators work collaboratively to make sure that senior investors are treated fairly. The culture of compliance at firms is key to ensuring that seniors receive suitable recommendations and proper disclosures of the risks, benefits and costs of any investments they are purchasing,” said Susan Axelrod, FINRA Executive Vice President, Regulatory Operations.

For a link to the announcement of this initiative click here.  If you are a senior who may have been a victim of investment fraud or unethical practices by your stockbroker contact the attorneys at West & West, LLC by calling 410-296-4655 for a free initial consultation.

Former NFL Player Will Allen Accused Of Running $32M Ponzi Scheme

Former NFL Cornerback Will Allen and a business associate have been accused of running a $32 Million Ponzi Scheme thru a company that provided loans to professional athletes according to a complaint filed by the SEC.  If you would like more details, please click here.

If you believe you may have been a victim of a Ponzi scheme or other investment fraud contact the mid-Atlantic investment fraud lawyers at West & West, LLC for a free initial consultation by calling them at 410-296-4655.

FINRA Arbitration Panel Finds Stifel Nicolaus And Broker Liable For Over $1.5M

On March 31, 2015 in Gilbert v. Noble and Stifel Nicolaus, FINRA Case Number 12-02897, the Panel found Respondents jointly and severally liable for compensatory damages in the amount of $1,292,342.00 and attorneys’ fees in the amount of $250,000.00.  The claims related to the use of margin as well as purchases of variable annuities issued by Sunlife and Manulife and a Friedman Billings Ramsey Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT).

If you believe that you may have been the victim of stockbroker, fraud, misconduct or malpractice in connection with variable annuities, REITs or other securities or investment products please call Maryland Investment Fraud Attorneys West & West at 410-296-4655.

If Investment Advice Sounds Too Good To Be True, It Is Likely To Be Fraudulent

Old aphorisms are often helpful in ferreting out fraudulent advice.  One such aphorism is: “if it sounds too good to be true, it is.”  One unchangeable law of investing is that the higher the rate of return on an investment, the higher the risk of the investment.  Anyone who claims that a high rate of return or large payout is “guaranteed,” “very low risk,” or a “sure thing” is trying to defraud you.  If you believe you may have fallen victim to investment fraud, West & West in Baltimore, Maryland for a free, no-obligation, initial consultation.

FINRA Fines Oppenheimer $3.75M For Failure To Supervise

FINRA has ordered Oppenheimer & Co (now part of CIBC World Markets) to pay $3.75 million for failing to supervise, Mark Hotton, a broker who defrauded clients and the producers of a Broadway musical.  FINRA noted that Oppenheimer failed to investigate Mark Hotton before hiring him, and overlooked “red flags” after they hired him.  FINRA also says that while working at Oppenheimer, Hotton transferred $2.9 million out of client accounts and sent the money to entities he owned.

If you have been victimized by Mark Hotton or any other Oppenheimer brokers, please contact the Towson Investment Fraud Recovery Law Firm of West & West.

Mid-Atlantic Stockbrokers Barred Or Suspended By FINRA For Taking Advantage Of Elderly Clients

George Wayne Hoffman from Parkville, Maryland, a former registered representative with H. Beck, Inc., was barred from association with any FINRA member in any capacity.  That sanction was based upon, among other findings, that Hoffman converted $17,000 from an elderly client for his own benefit and improperly accepted a $36,000 dollar personal loan from that same client, which he never repaid.  (FINRA Case #2012032922101)

Constance Marie Larsen of Centreville, Virginia, a former registered representative with Pruco Securities, LLC was suspended from association with any capacity for two years for, among other misdeeds, accepting a loan from an elderly client. (FINRA Case #2013038483201)

To see a summary of all Disciplinary and Other FINRA Actions reported for January 2015, please click here.

If you believe that you may have been victimized by George Wayne Hoffman, Constance Marie Larsen, H. Beck, Inc. Pruco Securities, LLC or any other firms or brokers disciplined by FINRA as reported in January 2015, please contact the Maryland investment fraud recovery law firm of West & West, LLC.



Welcome to the West & West Investment and Stock Market Fraud Law Blog. The securities fraud litigation lawyers at West & West have decades of combined experience representing victims of investment and stock market fraud.

One of the main purposes for this blog is to help educate investors so that they never have to become our clients. We plan to post explanations of tactics and scams used by fraudsters and rogue stockbrokers, as well as common sense tips about how to avoid falling prey to these scams.

We also will post updates on specific firms, products and individuals who may have come under criminal indictment, or regulatory scrutiny, or had large FINRA arbitration awards rendered against them.

If, while reading our blog, you come to believe that you may have fallen victim to a highlighted individual, firm, product, or type of scam, you can contact West & West for a free, no obligation initial consultation.

We hope that readers find our blog to be educational and that we manage to save some investors from falling victim to any of the hundreds, if not thousands, of rogue stockbrokers, self-dealing investment advisors and scam artists who spend each day prowling for new victims.