Broker Fraud: FINRA Arbitration Panel Awards Investor $1M After Misleading Variable Annuities Sales Pitch, Broker-Dealer Owner Gets Prison Sentence in $100M Stock-Loan Scheme, & Fugitive Broker is Arrested After 20 Years On the Run

Investor Awarded Over $1M After Allegedly Misleading Sales Pitch by Wilbank Securities Broker

A Financial Industry Regulatory Authority panel has awarded investor Grace S. Huitt over $1 million in her broker fraud claim against Wilbanks Securities. According to Huitt, one of the firm’s brokers presented her with a sales pitch about the ING Landmark Variable Annuity that not only was misleading but also promised too much and then under-delivered. She alleged breach of contract, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, and negligent supervision.

Huitt claims that when she bought the variable annuity in 2008, she was told that it came with a guaranteed 7% compound yearly return. Other investors who also had made investment puchases through Wilbanks Securities reportedly claimed similar problems with what they were promised.

The FINRA arbitration award said that Wilbanks rejected Huitt’s claims and filed a counterclaim contending that she waited too long to pursue her case. The arbitrators, however, denied the counterclaim.

Of the more than $1M that Huitt was awarded, over $536K is compensatory damages and more than $536K is punitive damages.

Ex-Florida Broker is Sentenced to 8 Years In $100M Global Stock-Loan Scam
Jefferey Spanier must now pay about $20M in restitution and serve an 8-year prison term for fraud and conspiracy. The former Florida broker used to own Amerifund Capital Finance.

According to prosecutors, Spanier and others targeted corporate executives in a number of countries. These executives pledged millions of dollars of stock that they were holding in publicly traded companies as collateral so they could obtain loans.

Spanier and his conspirators touted the stocks as safe but went on to sell them, using the funds to pay for other loans. These sales lead to stock prices dropping.

Fugitive Accused of Orchestrating $100M Fraud is Now in Custody
A former broker, who was on the run for twenty years, is finally in police custody. Scott J. Wolas, who hid under several aliases, was arrested in Delray Beach, Florida earlier this month.

He is accused of multiple frauds, including one in the 1990s that defrauded investors of up to $100M. Over the years, and while a fugitive, he allegedly masterminded other schemes, including two Massachusetts real estate development projects in which at least 19 investors were bilked of over $1.5M. Now, he is charged with aggravated identity theft and criminal wire fraud.

Wolas’s alleged fraud victims are said to include the ex-wife of Henry Ford II, Christina Ford. A New York Times article from 1996 claims she lost about $762K. Wolas also allegedly defrauded his elderly aunt of $200K.

Wolas is a disbarred lawyer. In 1998, his former law firm, Hunton & Williams, agreed to pay investors over $6M to about 20 investors to settle a lawsuit that involved him.

As a fugitive, Wolas went to work for a number of broker-dealers but used different identities. He allegedly ran a pyramid scam at one point.

At Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantas, LTD LLP, our broker fraud law firm works with investors in trying to recoup their investment losses. Contact us today.

Finra arbitration panel awards Wilbanks Securities investor $1 million for misleading sales pitch on variable annuity, FINRA, April 14, 2017

The FINRA Award Document in the Huitt/Wilbank Securities Case (PDF)

Ex-broker gets 8 years for role in $100M stock-loan swindle, AP News, April 13, 2017

Hunton & Williams Settles Suit Involving Former Partner Wolas, The Wall Street Journal, December 23, 1998

After 20 Years as Fugitive, Ex-Hunton Partner Arrested in Florida, The American Lawyer, April 9, 2017

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