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Articles Posted in Texas Securities Fraud

Virginia Regulator Fines UBS Financial After Its Broker Makes Unsuitable Recommendations

To settle charges brought by Virginia’s State Corporate Commission accusing a UBS (UBS) broker of making unsuitable recommendations involving gold and precious metals securities to 18 clients, UBS Financial Services will pay $319K—$289K to the clients and $30K to the state.

Virginia’s regulator contends that unsuitable recommendations were made in 2013 and 2014 and caused UBS clients to hold an overconcentration of these securities, which were not even suitable for some of them. The state said that this violated its securities rules.

The CFTC is ordering Lawrence/Laurence Hong, his wife Grace Hong, and their Pishon Holding LLC to pay over $1.25M in restitution for the misappropriation and fraudulent solicitation of futures contracts. The couple already pleaded guilty to related criminal charges last year, with Laurence sentenced to 180 months in prison and Grace to 72 months behind bars.

According to the CFTC’s complaint, which it brought against the couple in 2017, the Hongs defrauded investors of more than $11M. They allegedly did this by fraudulently soliciting people at a church gathering, through a YouTube video, and via misrepresentations that a Pastor made about Laurence’s supposed record as a successful trader and how much money he oversaw. The couple is accused of giving these misrepresentations to the Pastor before the church gathering.

The self-regulatory authority (SRO) also accused the Hongs of making false statements in solicitation materials, including that:

The US Securities and Exchange Commission has filed fraud charges against Phillip Michael Carter, Bobby Eugene Guess, Richard Tilford, and several entities accusing them of operating a multi-million dollar offering fraud. The regulator contends that the three men raised nearly $45 million from more than 270 investors in the US through the sale of high-yield, short-term promissory notes that were touted to prospective buyers as low-risk.

According to the SEC, investors thought they were getting involved in actual real estate development companies but instead ended up buying securities from entities with no assets. Carter, who is the principal of North Forty Development LLC and Texas Cash Cow Investments, is accused of then misappropriating $1.2M in investor funds for his own expenses, including a personal IRS tax lien and to operate a luxury hunting ranch. He also allegedly made over $3M in Ponzi payments that were issued to investors.

Now, the defendants are accused of offering and selling unregistered securities, violating the Exchange Act and the Securities Act, and acting as unlicensed brokers. The entities that are relief defendants in the case include:

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.”
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