Articles Tagged with financial investment lawyers

Iorio Altamirano LLP is currently investigating former MML Investor Services, LLC broker Oscar Francis, who reportedly recommended that his customers invest in private placement securities issued by GPB Capital. The GPB notes, which are private securities offerings exempt from registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), are inherently risky investments.  These investments are suitable only for highly sophisticated investors who understand the risks and can afford a significant monetary loss.  Unfortunately, many brokerage firms and brokers sold the GPB Capital securities to retirees and unsophisticated investors because they paid a high up-front commission.

Mr. Francis was a broker at MML Investors Services, LLC, Inc. in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, from July 2008 to May 2017. At that time, MML terminated his employment connected with an investigation into an undisclosed outside business activity, selling away, and an unauthorized non-securities life insurance transaction.  In August 2018, Mr. Francis pleaded guilty to wire fraud after admitting that between June 25, 2012, and May 31, 2017, he devised a scheme to defraud at least eleven investors out of approximately $665,000.  Mr. Francis was subsequently sentenced to 41 months in prison and ordered to pay over $420,000 in restitution to clients.   In May 2019, he was also barred by the SEC from association from associating with any broker, dealer, or investment advisor.

Iorio Altamirano LLP is also investigating the sales practices and due diligence of MML Investors Services, LLC related to its sale of GPB Capital funds.   It is believed, according to reports, that MML has been subjected to numerous lawsuits from customers in the form of FINRA securities arbitration claims to recover investment losses.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) has sanctioned Dawson James Securities, Inc. (“Dawson James”) for charging customers excessive commissions.  On April 6, 2021, FINRA and Dawson James entered into a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver, and Consent (“AWC”) whereby Dawson James accepted the following sanctions:

  • a censure;
  • a $20,000 fine; and

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) has sanctioned J.W. Cole Financial, Inc. (“J.W. Cole”) for failing to reasonably supervise brokers’ recommendations of the LJM Preservation & Growth Fund.  On March 18, 2021, FINRA and J.W. Cole entered into a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver, and Consent (“AWC”) whereby J.W. Cole accepted the following sanctions:

  • a censure;
  • a $50,000 fine;

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) has sanctioned Cambridge Investment Research, Inc. (“Cambridge”) for failing to reasonably supervise brokers’ recommendations of the LJM Preservation & Growth Fund.  On March 29, 2021, FINRA and Cambridge entered into a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver, and Consent (“AWC”) whereby Cambridge accepted the following sanctions:

  • a censure;
  • a $400,000 fine;

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) has barred stockbroker Charles Thomas Stevens from the securities industry for failing to appear and provide on-the-record testimony.

On December 1, 2020, FINRA’s Department of Enforcement filed a three-cause complaint against Mr. Stevens.  The first cause of action charged that Mr. Stevens willfully failed to disclose a judgment and three tax liens on his Uniform Application for Securities Industry Registration or Transfer (Form U4).  The second cause of action alleged that Mr. Stevens falsely represented to his firm that he did not have any unreported liens.  The third cause of action alleged that Mr. Stevens failed twice to appear and testify at an on-the-record interview.

Mr. Stevens then failed to appear at two-pear hearing conferences scheduled by the hearing officer.  FINRA’s Department of Enforcement then requested a default decision, which the hearing officer granted.

As Joe Biden takes his place as the 46th President of the United States of America, House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters, D-Calif., urges the Biden Administration to rescind Regulation Best Interest (Reg BI).

In a letter dated December 4, 2020, Rep. Waters outlined dozens of Trump-era regulations promulgated during the Trump administration that should be rescinded or replaced by the new administration.

Regulation Best Interest (Reg BI), which went into effect on June 30, 2020, establishes a standard of conduct for broker-dealers and brokers when they make a recommendation to a retail customer of any securities transaction or investment strategy involving securities. When a broker-dealer makes an investment recommendation, the investor is entitled to a recommendation that is in the investor’s best interest and does not place the interest of the financial professional or financial institution ahead of the retail investors’ interests.

Investing your money is a great way to grow your wealth, save for retirement, and reach your financial goals.  If you invest in the appropriate products, you can also receive income from investments, build on-pre-tax dollars, or reduce taxable income.

If you do not invest, you miss out on opportunities to increase your wealth.  However, all investments carry risk, and when you invest, you have the potential to lose money.

There are many different types of investments.  Some common types of investments include stocks, bonds, certificates of deposit, mutual funds, money market funds, exchange-traded funds, and annuities.  There are also more complex investment vehicles, such as real estate investment trusts (REITs), unit investment trusts (UITs), hedge funds, commodities, and private placements.

When an investor suffers harm, including investment losses, due to misconduct by a financial advisor or broker-dealer, the investor can file a securities arbitration claim against their financial advisor and/or broker-dealer in an effort to be compensated. The case will be presented and defended in an arbitration proceeding to a panel of arbitrators instead of a court of law in front of a judge and jury.

Arbitration is the primary forum for resolving disputes between investors and brokerage firms or financial advisors because the parties have contractually agreed to use arbitration as an alternative dispute resolution process. When an investor opens an account with a broker-dealer, the investor is required to sign an array of account opening documents. These account opening documents regularly include an arbitration clause, which requires that arbitration be used as an alternative to litigation. This requirement is often a contractually binding obligation for both parties. As a result, disputes between investors and financial advisors or brokerage firms are resolved in arbitration as an alternative to court.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) is authorized by Congress to regulate the financial services industry and operates the largest arbitration forum for securities disputes. Most securities arbitrations take place using FINRA’s Dispute Resolution Services’ arbitration forum because, as FINRA members, financial advisors and brokerage firms are required to arbitrate customer complaints upon the filing of a claim through FINRA.

On December 22, 2020, a FINRA Dispute Resolution Services arbitration panel in Boca Raton, Florida, ordered UBS Financial Services, Inc. to pay a customer $89,675 in compensatory damages.  After considering the pleadings, the testimony and evidence presented at the hearing, the arbitration panel concluded that the UBS Yield Enhancement Strategy (“YES”) was not suitable for the investor, Gerald S. Backman, a retired partner at corporate law firm Weil Gotshal & Manges.

Many UBS customers, including wealthy and sophisticated investors, who invested in UBS’s Yield Enhancement Strategy have filed lawsuits against UBS in the form of FINRA arbitrations to recover financial losses.   The customers have claimed that the strategy was not suitable for them and that UBS materially misrepresented and omitted the product’s risks.

Investors who have suffered investment losses due to UBS’s Yield Enhancement Strategy should contact experienced securities arbitration attorneys at Iorio Altamirano LLP for a free and confidential case evaluation.  Partner August Iorio, who has been investigating YES for nearly two years, can be reached at or toll-free at (855) 430-4010.

FINRA has barred financial advisor Michael Edward Magill (CRD #2024663) from the securities industry.  Michael Magill was a stockbroker at Foreside Fund Services, LLC, in Portland, Maine, from August 2017 until January 2019.

If you have lost money with Michael Magill, contact New York securities arbitration lawyers Iorio Altamirano LLP for a free and confidential evaluation of your account.

Mr. Magill has been a financial advisor and registered representative at the following firms:

Registration Dates    Firm Name Branch Location
August 2017 – January 2019 Foreside Fund Services, LLC Portland, Maine
August 2016 – July 2017 Crossroads Capital Distributors, LLC Newport Beach, California
December 2004 – December 2015 Janus Distributors LLC Denver, Colorado
January 2000 – January 2005 Davis Distributors, LLC Tucson, Arizona
January 1996 – January 1997 TCC Securities Corporation San Francisco, California
July 1995 – January 1996 Phoenix Securities, Inc. San Rafael, California
June 1994 – November 1994 Continental Capital Group, Inc.  
May 1991 – November 1992 John Hancock Distributors, Inc. Boston, Massachusetts
May 1991 – November 1992 John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company Boston, Massachusetts
January 1990 – July 1990 *Hibbard Brown & Co., Inc. New York, New York

*FINRA expelled Hibbard Brown & Co., Inc. on February 22, 1996

Michael Magill and FINRA entered into a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver, and Consent (“AWC”) on December 7, 2020, over allegations related to Magill recommending private securities transactions to three investors. The securities sold to the investors were not legitimate investments and the three investors, who were not customers of Foreside Fund Services, LLC, lost their entire investment, totaling $700,000.  Specifically, FINRA alleged:

  • On December 3, 2018, while registered with Foreside Fund Services, LLC, Mr. Magill began working on behalf of a private issuer to find potential investors for a principal-protected note offered by the issuer.
  • Magill contacted prospective investors, provided them with marketing materials, explained the investment and terms of the note, and directed them to the issuer’s website to complete the paperwork necessary to make the investment.
  • In December 2018, Mr. Magill recommended the principal-protected note to three investors, who invested a total of $7000,000.
  • The first investor was 78 years old at the time of the investment and invested $100,000.
  • A second investor invested $250,000, and a third investor invested $100,000.
  • The investors were not customers of Foreside Fund Services, LLC.
  • To entice the prospective investors, Mr. Magill offered higher interest rates for immediate investments and told the investors that the investment was only available for a short time.
  • Magill earned $14,000 in commissions, a bonus for securing investments by the end of 2018, and the salary the private issuer paid him.
  • Before recommending the principal-protected note, Mr. Magill failed to conduct reasonable diligence to understand the features and risks of investing in the note.
  • In February 2019, federal authorities shut down the private issuer’s offices.
  • An executive of the private issuers and Mr. Magill’s supervisor at the private issuer both pled guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and sentenced to prison. Another executive died in custody while awaiting trial.
  • Foreside Fund Services, LLC required its financial advisors to receive the firm’s written approval prior to participating in the transaction.
  • Magill did not provide written notice to Foreside Fund Services, LLC and received no written approval to participate in the three private securities transactions.

When a financial advisor solicits a customer to participate in a securities transaction that is not offered or approved by the advisor’s employing brokerage firm, it is often referred to as selling away.

This blog has previously written about other recent selling away allegations:  Future Income Payments, LLC.

Brokerage firms like Foreside Fund Services, LLC must properly supervise financial advisors and customer accounts.  Brokerage firms must also establish and maintain a reasonably designed system to oversee account activity, such as private securities transactions, to ensure compliance with securities laws and industry regulations.   When a brokerage firm fails to sufficiently supervise its financial advisors or the investment account activity, it may be liable for investment losses sustained by customers.

If you have lost money with Michael Edward Magill or Foreside Fund Services, LLC, contact New York securities arbitration lawyer August Iorio of Iorio Altamirano LLP. August Iorio can be reached at or toll-free at (855) 430-4010 for a free and confidential review of your account.

Iorio Altamirano LLP is a boutique law firm located in the heart of New York City. Iorio Altamirano LLP represents investors nationwide who have suffered investment losses due to securities fraud.

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