Articles Posted in SEC Enforcement


Steele Financial is Accused of Investor Fraud

The US Securities and Exchange Commission has filed civil charges against investment advisory firm Steele Financial Inc. and its owner Tamara Steele. According to the regulator, they allegedly sold $13M of risky securities to over 120 advisory clients. A lot of these clients are teachers, ex-teachers, or other public education employees. The SEC contends that Steele and her investment advisory firm did not tell them that Steele Financial would be making up to 18% in commissions in sales.

According to the Commission’s investment advisory fraud complaint, from 12/2012 to 10/2016, Stele Financial and Steele sold over $15M of Behavioral Recognition Systems Inc. securities. BRS is a company that the SEC has charged with fraud in the past. Meantime, Stele and her firm made over $2.5M of commissions.

The SEC has filed fraud charges against hedge fund adviser Gregory Lemelson and his Massachusetts based investment advisory firm Lemelson Capital Management LLC. The regulator is accusing them of illegally profiting over $1.3M from an alleged short-and-distort scheme that involved Ligand Pharmaceuticals.

According to the hedge fund fraud allegations, Lemelson and his investment advisory firm put out false information about the San Diego-based pharmaceutical company after the hedge fund adviser took a short position in Ligand for The Amvona Fund. Lemelson is a part owner and advisor of this other hedge fund.

The SEC’s complaint said that Lemelson’s false statements were meant to rattle investor confidence in Ligand, drive its stock price down, and increase his short-position’s value. He allegedly used interviews, written reports, and social media to disperse the false claims.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission has filed fraud charges against 1 Global Capital LLC, a Florida-based cash advance company, and its ex-CEO Carl Ruderman. According to the regulator, they allegedly defrauded at least 3,400 investors and since 2014 have fraudulently raised over $287M through unregistered securities sales.

According to the SEC’s complaint, 1 Global worked with a network of both registered and unregistered investment advisors, brokers who were barred from the industry, and other sales agents. The company paid them millions of dollars in commissions for offering and selling the unregistered securities to investors in at least 25 US states.

Investors were promised that they would make money from loans that 1 Global would issue to companies. The investments were touted as “high-return, low-risk” and purportedly involved the issuing of short-term cash advances to businesses that didn’t qualify for financing of the “more traditional” varieties.


Over 1000 Investors May Be Victims of Alleged Future Income Payments Fraud

Dozens of stockbrokers, financial planners, financial advisers, and insurance agents are now the defendants of investor fraud lawsuits over an alleged $100M scam that may have bilked over 1000 investors. Many of these investors were retirees, which means that elder investor fraud may have been involved.

InvestmentNews reports that according to the plaintiffs, the advisers breached their fiduciary obligation and were negligent when they sold them structured cash flows offered by Future Income Payments, LLC. At least 370 investment intermediaries in the US are believed to have sold these investments to investors, with the representatives receiving 6-10% in commissions upfront.

The United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has refused to overturn the US Securities and Exchange Commission ruling that Wedbush Securities Inc. engaged in inadequate supervision of its own regulatory compliance. The appeals court also affirmed the suspension of the brokerage firm’s president and principal Edward W. Wedbush.

The SEC’s 2016 finding had sustained a 2014 ruling by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s National Adjudicatory Council, which ordered Wedbush to pay a $350K fine for either not filing, or filing late, dozens of documents regarding complaints and judgments that had been brought against the investment firm and its financial representatives. Finra found that Wedbush Securities violated the bylaws and rules of the NASD, the NYSE, and the self-regulatory organization itself 158 times and was delinquent in submitting the documents at issue over a five-year period, from 1/2005 to 7/2010.

Wedbush and its president had tried to argue before the SEC that FINRA was wrong in finding that the broker-dealer failed to supervise reporting requirements. The brokerage firm also questioned whether the hearing it received before the SRO was a fair one since a FINRA rule did not specifically note suspension as a sanction.

Daniel Glick, a Chicago-Based investment adviser who bilked clients, including older investors, of $5.2M, has been sentenced to 151 months in prison. He also has to pay $5.2M in restitution. Glick’s Ponzi-like fraud took place between 2011 and 2016.

Glick, who is the owner of Glick Accounting Services Inc., Financial Management Strategies Inc., and Glick & Associates Ltd., pleaded guilty earlier this year to wire fraud. He told clients that not only would he invest their funds but also that he would pay their bills for them. He sent them account statements that were “false and misleading.”

Glick’s own family, including his wife’s parents, were among his victims. He defrauded them of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Another family paid him $700K in fees while he misappropriated hundreds of thousands of dollars. Clients’ funds were also used to pay two business associates.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission is proposing a rule that would keep registered representatives and brokers from also referring to themselves as investment advisors. In almost 1,000 pages of new proposals, the regulator articulated that it wants brokerage firms to make sure that the investing public knows that while brokers can sell investment products they are not trusted fiduciary advisors—nor is it their role to continue to offer advice after a sale has been made. Under the proposed rule, brokers would no longer be allowed to call themselves a trusted “advisor” or “adviser.” They can, however, take steps to become a registered investment adviser.

Addressing the proposed package, SEC Chairman Jay Clayton said that “investor confusion” about what differentiates broker-dealers from investment advisers is what prompted these latest initiatives. While both can give retail investors advice regarding possible investments, the two have different kinds of relationships with them. Clayton also noted that retail investors can suffer harm if they don’t know that certain conflicts of interest may be involved when working with either broker-dealers or investment advisers. Investors also may be giving more authority over their finances to a broker or investment adviser than they should.

In a 4-1 vote this week, the SEC’s ”Regulation Best Interests” measures for brokers was moved forward. Under the new measures, brokers would be obligated to place clients’ best interests before their own when it comes to recommending investment strategies or products. Brokers would have to set up and enforce written procedures and polices that would identify, expose, get rid of, or avoid conflicts of interest that might involve a financial incentive. While the existing broker standard requires that they recommend investment products that are suitable to each client, brokers are still allowed to endorse the products that gives them the greater financial payday.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission is accusing John S. Jumper, a Tennessee businessman and ex-broker, of stealing about $5.7M from the pension plan of Snow Shoe Refractories, LLC, a Pennsylvania company. Now, the commission wants disgorgement of ill-gotten gains with interest, injunctive relief, and penalties.

According to the regulator’s complaint, three times, between 3/2015 and 2/2016, Jumper stole money from the Snow Shoe Refractories, LLC Pension Plan for Hourly Employees by forging documents that supposedly showed he had authority over the fund’s money. He then allegedly used the funds to “capitalize” several businesses to which he had some ties, including, in some cases, ownership. These companies, Alluvion Securities, Speedee Brakes, American Investment Funds II, Thousand Hills Capital, and Evertone Records, have been named relief defendants in the SEC’s pension plan fraud case. The regulator contends that they have no “legitimate claim” on the pension fund’s monies.

Jumper previously worked as a registered representative at a number of brokerage firms for almost two decades. He was the CEO, owner, and registered representative of Alluvion Securities. He also was an investment adviser and President of Alluvion Investments.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission has filed fraud charges against investment adviser Amrit J.S. Chahal, who founded Kane Capital Investment Group, LLC. Chahal is accused of using his company to solicit about $1.4M from about 50 people, some of them friends and family members. Now, the regulator wants a permanent injunction, penalties, and disgorgement.

According to the SEC’s securities fraud complaint, from at least 2/2015, the investment advisor targeted prospective investors by telling them he was a seasoned trader who could make clients “above-market returns” by employing a trading strategy whose risks were low. In truth, contends the Commission, Chahal had no previous substantive experience in the securities industry or in trading securities for others.

Investors gave Chahal their money with the understanding that he would use the funds to buy and sell futures, options, and commodities. He told them they would have to pay a $2.5% yearly fee and a performance-based fee that was 10% of an investor’s returns that went beyond a yearly 30% return rate. Chahal also falsely claimed that Kane Capital employed the most current software to help it garner the “highest possible profit” from every investment, with a focus on choosing investments that were high-yield and low-risk. In truth, said the Commission, the accused investment advisor “traded risky options and margins,” as well as sold and purchased commodities and futures.

Man Accused of Targeting Religious Congregation Members Admits to $13M Fraud

Sung “Laurence” Hong has pleaded guilty to money laundering and wire fraud, as well as to pretending to be an investment adviser so he could bilk clients of almost $13M. His plea agreement states that Hong mostly targeted members of religious organizations.

This is not the first time Hong that was caught for investor fraud. He served three years in prison after defrauding a neighbor of about $800K. Now, he may end up back in jail for decades.

SEC Files Case Against Man Accused in $250K Ponzi Scam

The US Securities and Exchange Commission has filed charges against Niket Shah, who is accused of stealing over $250K from coworkers and friends in a Ponzi scam. The regulator’s case comes in the wake of complaints brought by investors.

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