Forman Law Firm continuously investigates broker misconduct and enforcement proceedings announced by FINRA, the SEC, and various State's securities regulators. We will gladly conduct a preliminary investigation for any customer that would like some help analyzing the data publicly available about any broker or investment adviser.
Frequently, when a broker or firm is found to have violated securities rules and regulations, there are numerous customers that have been victimized by the misconduct. While FINRA or the SEC will in some situations require restitution to victims, it is more often the case that the public investors do not receive any restitution as a result of regulatory enforcement. In many situations, a group of investors will approach our firm, much in the same manner that they were probably solicited or referred to the underlying investments, and ask us to represent them as a group. There can be significant advantages to such a group representation, but also some conflicts of interest or disadvantages. It is our experience that the advantages normally outweigh the disadvantages, and the group claims proceed successfully.
If you want to know whether your broker, adviser or brokerage firm is or has been the subject of investigation or enforcement proceedings, please give us a call.
OUR CURRENT INVESTIGATIONS INCLUDE:
-- the Texas State Securities Board (TSSB) announced in a Disciplinary Order the suspension of Jason Anderson, a broker from Beaumont, Texas formerly working in the last two years with each of LPL, Kovack Securities, IFS Securities, and since March of 2017, was seeking registration as an investment adviser with IFS Advisory, LLC Between 2007 and February 2016, Anderson was recommending an active trading program pursuant to a technical analysis called“Equity Strategy.” There have been a number of customer complaints and a lawsuit filed against Mr. Anderson inequitable practices with his customers. It is reported stated that Mr. Anderson “did not consider the trading costs, which included commissions…or the impact that such costs would have on the rate of return the Equity Strategy would need to earn to generate a positive return for a client.” For one client, the costs were 30%--the client had to earn 30% to breakeven! Mr. Anderson did not have a reasonable basis to believe that the Equity Strategy was suitable for his clients because of his disregard of the trading costs (his own commissions). If you had an account with Mr. Anderson and lost money due to his trading practices and strategies, please contact our firm for an initial consultation.
Woodbridge. In December of 2017, the SEC filed a complaint in Miami accusing Robert Shapiro of being the mastermind of an extremely large, $1.2 Billion PONZI scheme, involving 8,400 investors, operated through Woodbridge. As with most PONZI schemes, the allegation is that the only way the operation can stay afloat is to use money from new investors to pay off old investors. Naturally, Woodbridge asserts that it is not a PONZI scheme, and in an effort (successful) to avoid the Receivership requested by the SEC , Woodbridge filed for bankruptcy protection. The Woodbridge bankruptcy continues, and many of the Woodbridge affiliates will be included in the bankruptcy in an effort to increase the assets potentially available for distribution to noteholders and investors. While we don't know how much investors will receive from the bankruptcy, we know that the professionals, lawyers, accountants, investment bankers and the like will absorb many, many tens of millions from the assets, further depleting the assets available for distribution.
Woodbridge funds and First Position Mortgage Notes were sold to investors through a network of salepersons. Likely, the salespersons sold the investments without any awareness of whether there was an underlying scheme. However, these investments were likely securities and/or investment contracts covered by state and/or federal securities laws. In many instances, when these investments are sold by persons that hold securities licenses, the licensing firms may have greater duties of due diligence, which if discharged appropriately, would have detected the underlying problem. More specifically, if licensed brokers engage in the sale or recommendation of securities "away" from the firm, and the firm knew about or should have known about the securities, the firm can be held liable for damages stemming from the selling away. While firms will sometimes know about or even approve the "outside business activities" of their licensees, firms should continually monitor these outside business activities to make certain that the outside business activity doesn't turn into a private securities transaction. In each instance, firms will have certain duties under the applicable laws, and often create additional duties under their own policies and procedures. In short, if you took advice and/or a recommendation from a stock broker or investment adviser, and subsequently lost money following that advice, your broker's or adviser's firm may be financially responsible for those losses.
Additionally, at least two different class action suits
have been filed against Comerica Bank, alleging that Comerica aided and abetted Woodbridge in the PONZI Scheme. Generally, those persons or entities that provide substantial assistance in connection with a fraud (like a PONZI scheme) can be held liable just as if they committed the fraud directly.
It seems apparent that many noteholders and investors will not recoup all of their investment or the returns due for such an investment through the bankruptcy or any class action lawsuit. In that case, it may be appropriate for investors to hire competent counsel to review their options for recovery, whether it be through the bankruptcy proceeding, joining or opting out of a class action lawsuit, or initiating claims against salespersons, or more likely, the firms that failed to conduct proper due diligence, failed to supervise these investments, and failed to monitor investments that they knew were being made by public investors. Forman Law Firm is currently investigating these claims, and is representing clients involved in the Woodbridge situation.
If you were directly or indirectly involved in the Woodbridge series of investments, please feel free to contact us for a free consultation.