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Ex-LPL Financial Broker Gets 20 Years in Prison for Securities Fraud

Sonya Camarco, an target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>ex-LPL Financial (LPLA) broker, has been sentenced to 20 years in prison after she admitted to stealing $1.8M from clients. Camarco, who worked for the brokerage firm in Colorado, was indicted by a grand jury last year on multiple counts of securities fraud. She pleaded guilty to one count of each.

According to the broker fraud case against her, between 2013 and 2017, Camaro stole over $1.8M from clients for her own use. In August 2017, LPL Financial fired her. That same month, the US Securities and Exchange Commission was able to get an emergency court order and asset freeze against Camarco. The SEC’s complaint said that the theft took place over 13 years and the ex-LPL broker lied to clients about the money she was taking from their accounts.

The SEC also accused Camarco of forging client signatures on checks and liquidating securities in their accounts so she could make unauthorized payments. When clients asked about the checks written to an entity named “C Investments”, Camarco lied by claiming that the entity was an outside investment she had made for them. The former broker also allegedly lied when LPL Financial confronted her about the fraud. All the while, she used client money to pay her mortgage and credit card bills.

In addition to her prison sentence, Comarco received a sentence of 20 years probation over false tax returns.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority barred Camarco from the brokerage industry last year. Previous to working as an LPL Financial broker, Camarco was a Morgan Stanley (MS) broker and before that she was with Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner, & Smith.

Camarco’s BrokerCheck record shows that there have been nine costumer disputes brought against her, one of which is still pending. In that latter case, the claimants are asking for almost $6M over the alleged misappropriation of their funds.

Camarco is not the only LPL broker to come under fire for fraud. Numerous broker fraud complaints have been brought against a number of other LPL brokers in the past few years alone.

FINRA Fines LPL Financial $2.75M
Last week, FINRA ordered LPL Financial to pay a $2.75M fine for not listing numerous complaints brought against its brokers and for failing to submit over 400 SARS (suspicious activity reports) in its money-laundering program.

The regulator contends that for over three years, LPL Financial:

  • Did not update brokers’ termination and registration forms so that dozens of customer complaints would be noted.
  • Took too narrow an interpretation of a requirement that a complaint  had to include a request for compensatory damages of at least $5K in order for it to be reported.
  • Did not file over 400 SARs reports and that this failure was due to problems with the firm’s internal guidance regarding reporting.

By settling, LPL Financial is not denying or admitting to the self-regulatory authority’s charges. It is, however, consenting to the entry of FINRA’s findings.

SSEK Law Firm
At Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantar, LLP, our LPL broker fraud lawyers represents investors that have lost money because of negligence, misrepresentations, fraud, or carelessness. We work with investors throughout the US. Contact our investor fraud law firm today.

FINRA Fines LPL $2.75 Million for Complaint-Reporting and AML Program Failures, FINRA, October 30, 2018

The SEC Complaint in the Comarco Case (PDF)

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