Articles Tagged with Penny stock fraud

The US Securities and Exchange Commission has brought penny stock fraud charges against Diana P. Lovera, the ex-COO of Oxford City Football Club, Inc. Lovera faced criminal charges in a parallel case and she has already pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud.

According to the SEC’s Complaint, from about 7/2013 to 7/2015, Lovera and others at the penny stock company used a boiler room and exercised pressure tactics to raise about $6.6M from over 150 investors. They sold millions of unregistered Oxford City stock shares. Many of the investors involved were unaccredited.

The regulator is accusing Lovera of making misstatements about Oxford City’s assets, potential for profit, business plan, and management composition. She also allegedly falsely told potential investors that they could “lock in” a reduced share price by using Oxford City’s voice verification “system.” She touted the system as having the ability to link the personal information of investors to an SEC filing.

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U.S. District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow has dismissed Scottsdale Capital Advisors’ securities case claiming that the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority did not have legal authority to enforce securities laws. The self-regulatory organization had filed an administrative case against the financial firm, accusing it of selling unregistered penny stock shares.

In March, Scottsdale filed its complaint, contending that the claims brought by the regulator came out of violations of the Securities Act of 1933, which it believes that the Securities and Exchange Commission, and not FINRA, has purview over when it comes to enforcing it the act. However, Scottsdale also said that both the SEC and FINRA did not have the “realm of expertise” to make a ruling in the SRO’s case against it.

Judge Chasanow dismissed Scottsdale’s lawsuit citing lack of subject matter jurisdiction. She said that the allegations brought by FINRA as they pertain to the penny stock trades should not be in heard in federal court.

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The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority has barred broker George Johnson from the industry. The regulator is accusing him of market manipulation involving the artificial inflation of a penny stock’s value. FINRA claims that Newport Coast Securities, which is the last firm where Johnson worked, let its brokers engaging in churning.

According to the self-regulatory organization, over eight days in May 2012, Johnson, while working for Meyers Associates, told customers to buy stocks of iceWEB at prices that were artificially inflated. He also suggested that certain clients sell their shares to match trades between clients.

FINRA said that Johnson manipulated stock to get business from the issuer, which agreed to compensate him for a future private offering. He purportedly worked with a stock promoter to increase iceWEB’s share price to the point that certain warrants could be exercised.

Johnson also has been accused of involvement in a second penny stock fraud and he purportedly has tried to cover up different state securities violations. He has a history of regulatory actions and customer disputes going as far back to 1994. Johnson previously worked for H.J. Meyers & Co. and Jesup & Lamont Securities, two firms that have since been expelled. Meyers Associates also has been linked to a number of regulatory probes.

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Aegis Capital Corp. must pay $950,000 to resolve allegations that it engaged in the improper sales of billions of shares of unregistered penny stock. The securities case was brought by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority last August. According to the self-regulatory organization, the New York-based brokerage firm facilitated a penny stock scheme that resulted in $24.5 million in customer profits and $1.1 million in commissions. Aegis is also accused of supervisory lapses related to anti-money laundering.

The SRO said that from April 2009 to June 2011 the brokerage firm liquidated about 3.9 billion shares of five penny stocks that were unregistered even though they should have been registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Also, FINRA contends, Aegis and compliance officers disregarded red flags related to the transactions.

For example, an ex-securities broker who was barred from the industry was the one who referred the customers involved to Aegis. This broker controlled the activity in a number of accounts at the firm. Without looking further into this questionable scenario, Aegis sold the unregistered shares.
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The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has filed charges against California Attorney Richard Weed, Coleman Flaherty, and Thomas Brazil. The regulator contends that Weed facilitated a pump and dump scam involving CitySide Tickets Inc. stock that allowed Flaherty and Brazil to get millions of supposedly unrestricted shares.

Investors were barraged with a misleading and false promotional campaign presenting CitySide Tickets as a company in the verge of expansion and success. As the stock price went up, Flaherty and Brazil sold their shares to investors, causing the two of them to make about $3 million in illicit proceeds. Weed purportedly was well compensated for the role that he played.

The Commission charges the three men with violating federal securities laws’ antifraud provisions and related rules. The agency wants disgorgement of ill-gotten gains, interest, penalties, permanent injunctions against further violations, and penny stock bars. Meantime, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts has filed a parallel criminal case against Flaherty, Brazil, and Weed.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority has issued an enforcement action charging Feltl & Company for not notifying certain customers of the suitability and risks involving certain penny-stock transactions, as well as for failing to issue customer account statements showing each penny stock’s market value. The brokerage firm is based in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

FINRA claims that the firm failed to properly document transactions for securities that temporarily may not have fulfilled the definition of a penny stock and did not properly track penny-stock transactions involving securities that didn’t make a market.

Feltl made a market in nearly twenty penny stocks. The brokerage firm made $2.1 million from at least 2,450 customer transactions that were solicited in 15 penny stocks between 2008 and 2012. The SRO says it isn’t clear how much the firm made from selling penny stocks that it didn’t keep track of but that revenue from this would have been substantial.

Ex- Harbinger Capital Partners LLC COO Admits Wrongdoing in Hedge Fund Case

Peter A. Jenson, the former chief operating officer at Harbinger Capital Partners LLC, has agreed to pay $200,000 and admit to wrongdoing in the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s case accusing him of assisting in hedge fund fraud. The scam involved his former firm and its owner Philip A. Falcone and sought to misappropriate millions of dollars so Falcone could pay his taxes.

The SEC charged Jenson, Falcone, and Harbinger in 2012. As part of his settlement, Jenson is acknowledging that he knew about the violations committed by Harbinger and Falcone. He said that he helped Falcone take part in a related party loan by failing to make sure the lender, Harbinger Capital Partners Special Situations Fund, had its own counsel, the loan was consistent with the fiduciary duties that Falcone owed the Special Situations Fund, and that Falcone paid an interest rate on the loan that was “above market.”

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has filed charges in a number of penny stock scams involving microcap companies, promoters, and officers. As of March 22, the regulator had charged 25 companies and 48 individuals in probes that originated out of its regional office in Miami. The agency has been working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida to expose the financial fraud. Many of those charged by the SEC are also contending with criminal charges.

Two of those facing SEC charges are stock promoters Stephen C. Bauer and Kevin McKnight of Boca Raton. They are accused of market manipulation fraud involving Environmental Infrastructure Holdings Corp.’s (EIHC) penny stock. According to the regulator, they made it seem as if there was market interest EIHC to get investors to buy the stock, which artificially raised trading volume and price.

Also named in an SEC complaint is Richard A. Altmare from Boca Raton for market manipulation involving Sunset Brands Inc. (SSBN) stock. In an unrelated penny stock case, the SEC is charging Jeffrey M. Berkowitz, who is from Jupiter, Florida with participating in a market manipulation scheme, this one over Face Up Entertainment Group (FUEG) stock.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority says that Oppenheimer & Co. (OPY) will pay a $1,425,000 fine for the purported sale of penny stock shares that were unregistered and for not having an anti-money laundering (AML) compliance program that was adequate enough to identify and report suspect transactions. The financial firm also must get an independent consultant to perform a comprehensive review of its AML procedures, systems, and policies and its penny stock.

According to the SRO, from 8/18/08 to 9/20/10, Oppenheimer sold over a billion shares of twenty penny stock that were low-priced and very speculative but were not registered or lacked an exemption that was applicable. Soon after opening accounts, customers deposited huge blocks of penny stock and then liquidated them, moving proceeds out of the accounts.

FINRA contends that each sale came with “red flags” that should have spurred the firm to additional review to find out whether or not these were registered sales but that adequate supervisory assessment did not happen.The regulator also believes that Oppenheimer’s procedures and systems over penny stock transactions were not adequate and that because its AML program wasn’t focused on securities transactions it was unable to detect patterns of suspect activity linked to penny stock trades.

Before US Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales joined the military, he had a career as a stock trader. Now, media sources, who have been digging into his background to find out more about the man accused of massacring 16 villagers in Afghanistan, are reporting that the 38-year-old’s stockbroker career ended after he was accused of defrauding an elderly couple and bilking them of their life savings.

According to The Washington Post, prior to joining the military, Bales and MPI, the financial firm that he worked for, were ordered by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority to pay a $1.4 million securities settlement (compensation and punitive damages), for allegedly engaging in unauthorized trading, fraud, unsuitable investments, churning, and breach of fiduciary duty. Bales allegedly sold valuable stocks off while favoring penny stocks in order to up his commission.

The claimant, 74-year-old Gary Liebschner, said that he was never paid a cent of the arbitration award. In his securities complaint against Bales, which he filed in 2000, Liebschner said that $825,000 in AT & T stock lost all value because of trades that this former stock trader had made for him. ABC News says that when Liebschner was asked if he thought of Bales was a con man, the elderly senior replied in the affirmative.

“A question one may ask is, what do the actions of this man as a soldier have in common with his actions as a former stockbroker?” asked Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantas, LTD LLP Founder and Stockbroker Fraud Lawyer William Shepherd. “In either case, it is apparent that he was and is a very disturbed person. Having represented thousands of investors to recover investment losses I have found that most of the harm is caused by either the large percentage of ruthless financial firms or the small percentage of disturbed brokers. Most financial advisors are honest and care very much about their clients, but a few of them range from gambling addicts to complete sociopaths.”

US officials have said that early on the morning of March 11, Bales walked to two villages and started shooting families in their homes. He initially reported shooting a number of Afghan men outside a US combat post and reports of the staff sergeant’s initial account imply that he may have asserted that his actions had a legitimate military goal even though he entered the villages without authorization. What he didn’t mention, however, was that he had also killed over a dozen women and children. Bales’ defense lawyer, who says that his client doesn’t remember the shootings, plans to mount an insanity defense.

Afghan Murder Suspect Bales ‘Took My Life Savings,’ Says Retiree, ABC News, March 19, 2012

Staff Sgt. Robert Bales’ arrest as suspect in civilian shootings renews questions about mission in Afghanistan: A Closer Look,, March 18, 2012

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Wells Fargo & Co. May Have to Pay Another $15M to Minnesota Nonprofits For Securities Fraud, Institutional Investor Securities Fraud, December 24, 2010 Continue Reading ›

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