Articles Posted in Securities Fraud

Ex-target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>LPL Financial (LPLA) broker, Kerry L. Hoffman, is now facing fraud charges brought by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Hoffman is accused of fraudulently selling $3.3M of unregistered securities, along with childhood friend Thomas V. Conwell, who is also a defendant in the civil case. The latter was barred by the regulator from the industry in 2000 after a separate $800K fraud that harmed 19 investors. Conwell pleaded guilty to criminal fraud charges against him and was sentenced to time in prison.

According to the SEC’s current complaint, the two men defrauded at least 46 investors in a dozen states by selling GT Media, Inc. securities to them. Hoffman was a registered LPL Financial broker during most of the time of the fraud, which allegedly took place between July 2015 and July 2018. He resigned from the firm in the wake of allegations that he served as consultant to GT Media without getting LPL’s approval or notifying the firm about these outside activities. He also was accused of helping a number of LPL clients and his own family members to invest in the company.

Hoffman allegedly offered and sold $350K of GT Media convertible promissory notes and $500K of the company’s stock to five advisory clients, making $50K in commissions. The Commission is accusing him of soliciting some of his advisory clients to invest in the unregistered securities but without letting them know that he had a conflict of interest. Not only was GT Media  paying him compensation, but also the company was paying back money he had let it using investors’ money.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission has filed fraud charges against Mark Suleymanov, who owns the options trading website SpotFN. According to the regulator, Suleymanov, who is a New York resident, defrauded retail investors of about $4M in a binary options scam that took place from at least 2012 to 2016.

Binary Options

Investor.gov describes a binary option as a kind of options contract upon which payout depends on a “yes/no proposition” outcome and typically involves whether a certain asset’s price will go over or under a set figure. Upon acquisition of the option, a holder no longer has to decide about exercising said binary option because they “exercise automatically.” The holder of a binary option is not entitled to sell or purchase the asset. Upon expiration of the binary option, the holder is given either a cash amount that was previously determined or nothing at all.

Legend Securities Ordered to Pay Client For Churning His Funds 

A Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) panel has awarded Herbert W. Voss $1.075M in his securities fraud case against Legend Securities Inc., its ex-chief compliance officer Frank Philip Fusco, and former Legend broker Danard Warthen Brown. Legend is no longer in operation and was expelled by the self-regulatory authority (SRO) in 2012.

Voss reportedly lost $375,000 while Legend was his brokerage firm. Of the more than $1M award granted to Voss, $700K is for punitive damages. His securities fraud lawyer contends that punitive damages were warranted because of how much turnover took place in Voss’s account.


Man Who Ran RMA Strategic Opportunity Fund Ponzi Scam Pleads Guilty

Raymond K. Montoya, a Boston hedge fund manager, has pleaded guilty to operating a multi-billion dollar Ponzi scam involving the RMA Strategic Opportunity Fund, LLC. Montoya pleaded guilty to multiple counts of mail fraud, wire fraud, and conducting an unlawful monetary transaction.

Montoya was charged and arrested last year. His victims included relatives, friends, and people he knew. They invested millions of dollar, including their savings and retirement funds.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission announced this week that Christopher Faulkner, a Texas businessman, will pay $23.8M to settle oil and gas charges involving an alleged over $80M securities scam that bilked hundreds of investors. Faulkner, who called himself the “Frack Master” and claimed to be an expert in hydraulic fracturing, is accused of setting up several companies and then selling interests in oil and gas prospects to investors in Texas and other US states.

The regulator contends that Faulkner:

  • “Systematically deceived” investors through offering materials that were “false and misleading.”

Man is Convicted in $2.2M Investment Fraud

A federal jury has convicted a Pennsylvania man on 16 counts of securities fraud, 12 counts of wire fraud, four counts of money laundering, one count of mail fraud, and one count of tax evasion in a $2.2M investment scam. Thomas H. Connerton is accused of defrauding 50 people, including several women that he met through online dating. He was the CEO, president, and founder of Safety Technologies, LLC.

Founded in 2006, Safety Technologies was supposed to develop and commercialize materials that were resistant to cuts and punctures and which could be used to make surgical gloves and related products. Starting in 2009, Connerton began persuading investors to buy securities in Safety Tech. The investments were not registered with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

26-Year Old Mayor is Arrested and Accused of Investor Fraud

Jasiel Correira, who is the mayor of Fall River, Massachusetts, has pleaded not guilty to multiple criminal counts of wire fraud and tax fraud. The 26-year-old was arrested this week following allegations that he defrauded investors of over $230K.

Correira maintains that the investor fraud allegations are false. He refuses to step down as city mayor.

Earlier this year, the US Securities and Exchange Commission barred ex-RBC broker Thomas Buck from the industry. The action came less than four months after the regulator filed a civil case accusing Buck of investor fraud. He allegedly made material misrepresentations and omissions to investment advisory clients and certain customers while he was a Merrill Lynch financial adviser in order to get get paid excess fees and commissions.

As a result, more than 50 customers and clients under Buck ended up paying over $2.5M unnecessarily.

Buck also allegedly did not tell clients that they could have saved money if only they’d opted for a fee-based payment structure instead of the commission model. Meantime, he’d told Merrill Lynch compliance staff on several occasions that the clients knew about the less costly options.


$300M Stock Scam Allegations Lead to Guilty Verdict

A Brooklyn jury has convicted ex-OmniView Capital Advisors LLC CEO Abraxas J. Discala of conspiracy, wire fraud, and securities fraud in a $300M market rigging scam/ pump-and dump fraud.  A second defendant, lawyer Kyleen Cane, was acquitted after initially being charged with conspiracy and securities fraud.

According to prosecutors, the stock fraud occurred from 10/2012 through 7/2014. Trades in four publicly traded companies were reportedly involved.

In an agreement reached with the North American State Securities Administrators Association, LPL Financial (LPLA) will pay $26M in fines to a number of US states and jurisdictions over unregistered securities sales going back more than a decade. NASAA reports that the settlement comes after a task force was set up last summer to probe LPL’s sales of unregistered, non-exempt  securities to clients.  Now, LPL will pay $499K to each state securities regulator.  It also must buy back certain securities that it sold to investors going as far back as October 2006.

Details of the LPL Settlement for the Sale of Unregistered Securities 

Per the settlement, LPL will offer to repurchase securities in the brokerage firm’s accounts that were found to have been unregistered, fixed-income or non-exempt equity securities. Every buyback offer will come with 3% simple interest annually. Requirements were also put in place for investors with “affected securities” that were moved or sold from an LPL account.

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