Articles Posted in Texas Securities Fraud

Next Financial Group Inc. will be purchased by Atria Solutions. The Houston-based independent broker-dealer is the fourth brokerage firm that Atria, which is located in Dallas, has acquired since 2017. The other brokerage firms are Cadaret Grant & Co., Cusco Financial Services, and Sorrento Pacific Financial.

Next Financial currently has almost 540 advisers and representatives and nearly $13B in assets under management. According to InvestmentNews, Under the Next Financial deal, Atria will acquire the broker-dealer and its related companies. Following the acquisition, Atria will work with almost 2,000 advisers with about $65B in assets under administration.

Next Financial’s BrokerCheck record shows 19 disclosure events that have been settled, usually without the firm admitting to or denying the findings, for various causes, including:


Former MRI International Head is Found Guilty in $1.5B Ponzi Scam

Edwin Fujinaga, the ex-CEO of medical billings collections company MRI International, has been convicted of multiple counts of wire fraud, mail fraud, and money laundering. He is scheduled to be sentenced earlier this year.

According to the release issued by the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Nevada, Fujinaga and two other MRI executives were indicted in 2013 and were accused of fraudulently soliciting investments from over 10,000 residents in Japan, who wired their money to the US into bank accounts that he controlled. Fujinaga told investors that their funds would go toward buying medical claims only.

Authorities in Texas have arrested Phillip Michael Carter for fraud. Carter, a North Texas real estate developer, is accused of raising $17.5M from investors in the state who thought their money was going toward development projects. His victims included older investors. The Texas State Securities Board announced his arrest.

Carter’s wife, Shelley Noel Carter, also faces investor fraud and money laundering charges. Another man, Richard Gregory Tilford, who was indicted earlier this month in Collins County, is charged with selling about $5M in fraudulent real estate investments from investors. He allegedly did not tell investors that he was a convicted felon who had pleaded guilty to not submitting a tax return several years ago.

Carter owns North Forty Development and Texas Cash Cow Investments. He and Tilford purportedly told investors their money would be put into residential and commercial property development. Instead, Carter allegedly used their funds for:

A Financial Industry Regulatory Authority arbitration panel has awarded eight retirement investors $1,019,211 in a Texas real estate investment trust case involving three United Development Funding (UDF) REITs. United Development Funding is made up of private and publicly traded investment funds that use investor money to give loans to land developers and homebuilders.

According to the claimants, IMS Securities, a Houston-based brokerage firm that is no longer in operation, and its chief executive Jackie Divono Wadsworth recommended through a third party that investors purchase retirement accounts in the:

  • United Development Funding II

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority has barred three more former brokers in the wake of fraud allegations against them. Two of them were based in Texas. They are:

In Texas, a federal grand jury has indicted a couple accused of embezzling $14.5M dollars from the retirement plans that they oversaw. Wendy Richie and Jeffrey Richie co-own Vantage Benefits Administrator, which acted as a third party administrator for many retirement funds, including 401(K) plans. According to the US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas, the couple misappropriated money from “at least 1,000 plan participants in at least 20 employer retirement plans.”

The indictment against the couple alleges that Wendy Richie:

• Posed as a number of different beneficiaries.

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.”

Thomas J. Caufield, an investment advisor and the owner of and a Dallas-based investment education franchise, is now barred by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The regulator recently charged Caufield with investor fraud, accusing him of lying to over 30 investors in a $6.8M offering fraud.

According to the SEC, from at least early 2013 through December 2017, Caufield, who is from Colleyville, Texas, promised investors substantial returns if they invested in the high-yield promissory notes for what he touted was a profitable franchise. The investment advisor claimed that their money would go toward acquiring and running a franchise that would provide education programs. Instead, Caufield allegedly used a substantial portion of the over $6M in investor funds pay back earlier investors and take care of overdue franchise fees.

The Texas investment advisor is accused of providing materials with false information and making false pitches to prospective investors, including the franchise’s students and clients of DAT Capital Advisors, which was the investment adviser that Caufield owned and used to be registered in the state. Caufield allegedly did not disclose that the franchise was in poor financial health.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has barred Wells Fargo (WFC) broker Edward O. Daniel, after he failed to participate in a probe into allegations that he made unsuitable investments for one client. Daniel, a Texas-based broker, was with Wells Fargo Advisers for seven years before he stepped down in September 2016. He was a longtime broker of 41 years.

Soon after Daniel resignation two years ago, Wells Fargo disclosed that a customer had filed an arbitration complaint accusing him of making unsuitable investments over a several-year period. The dispute was resolved for $225K. His BrokerCheck record documents that Daniel has been named in eight disclosures, all involving complaints by customers.

Now, FINRA is barring him because he would not cooperate in the self-regulatory authority’s investigation into the unsuitable investment allegations.

Investors who placed their funds in the Texas-based United Development Funding IV real estate investment trust are asking a federal judge to approve a $13.5M REIT fraud settlement they’d reached with the company over the allegations that it had been run like a Ponzi-like scam and concealed this. The plaintiffs contend that UDV IV and its affiliates not only made false statements but also they did not disclose material facts involving business and operations.

They brought their REIT fraud case against the UDF companies three years ago, accusing the defendants of using investors’ funds from newer offering to pay investors who had gotten involved in earlier offerings. The investors, who want class certification, alleged that disclosures they were offered were misleading and lending practices lacked transparency.

Both sides eventually arrived at the $13.5M settlement—$10.5M in cash and another $3M once the REIT hits its $75M cash flow target in two years. This deal is separate from a settlement the plaintiffs reached with UDF accountants, as well as those that underwrote and sold the allegedly fraudulent offerings.

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