The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has taken action against two former Wells Fargo (WFC) representatives. Ex-broker Michael Garris has been suspended for a year after the self-regulatory organization found that he made 26 unauthorized trades in the account of a client who he knew had died.
Garris was fired by Wells Fargo over a year ago. According to FINRA, he made more than $9K in commissions from the unauthorized transactions in late 2017, several months after the client’s nephew had notified him of the death. Garris failed to tell the brokerage firm of the client’s passing.
Wells Fargo has since refunded the commissions that Garris made from the transactions, reversed the transactions that were not authorized, and placed the account back to its former positions from before the customer died.
Garris worked as a registered broker for more than 30 years. He has been a broker with Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, Schroder & Co., Prudential Securities Inc., and Drexel Burnham Lambert Inc.
Wells Fargo Investment Adviser Accused of Misusing Customer’s Money
FINRA, meantime, has barred a different rep., former Wells Fargo adviser Robert F. Montes, after he failed to cooperate in a probe into whether he misused a client’s money. The inquiry came after a tip was sent to the SRO accusing Montes of improperly using an older customer’s assets. A lawyer for Montes said that his client would not be providing any information or documents related to the investigation. Hence, the bar by FINRA.
Montes was a Wells Fargo adviser from July 2003 to February 2014, after which he was a registered Morgan Stanley investment adviser until this year. His BrokerCheck record states he had over 42 years of experience in the industry. He also has been a registered adviser with Prudential Securities, Salomon Smith Barney, Lehman Brothers, EF Hutton & Co., Merrill Lynch Penner & Smith, and Oppenheimer & Co.
Other Wells Fargo Brokers Recently Barred
Montes and Garris are not the only ex-Wells Fargo registered representatives to run afoul of regulators. The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) barred John Gregory Schmidt earlier this year for allegedly misappropriating $1.3M from clients, most of them older retirees. FINRA also barred him, and Wells Fargo let him go from the firm in 2017.
Schmidt recently pleaded no contest to 128 counts of felony securities fraud for operating a Ponzi-like scam. He is sentenced to five years in prison.
In the latter part of last year, FINRA barred former Wells Fargo brokers Thomas A. Davis, Wilfred Rodriguez Jr., and Edward O. Daniel. While Rodriguez and Davis were also let go by the brokerage firm, Daniel resigned. Rodriguez is accused of converting customer funds and concealing his actions by falsifying documents. Davis is accused of setting up fake accounts under clients’ names and setting up fake accounts. The SRO barred Daniel after he refused to take part in an investigation into whether he made unsuitable investments for a client.
Wells Fargo Broker Fraud
If you or someone you know lost money while represented by a Wells Fargo investment adviser or broker, and you suspect that fraud or negligence may have been a factor, contact Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantas, LLP (SSEK Law Firm) today to speak to one of your Wells Fargo investor fraud attorneys.