Archives for Florida Securities Attorneys

FINRA Lawyers can help protect investments

When someone has made financial investments in the form of securities, it is possible that their investments won’t result in the profit they anticipate. This can happen for a number of reasons, including changes in the industry you’ve invested in, but it can also be the result of broker misconduct. If you feel that your investments failed as the result of actions made by your broker, it’s important to find reliable a FINRA lawyer to help you with your case. There may have been misconduct on the part of your broker or brokerage firm which caused your investments to fail, and it’s important to explore all of these possibilities when determining the cause of your financial losses. FINRA is the regulatory organization which oversees the financial industry, including securities investments. A security is an investment which is made by individuals or businesses with the anticipation of a return in profit. Because these types of investments can be a good way to ensure a comfortable future for yourself and your family, investing has become a more common practice. FINRA exists to protect the market’s integrity and provide investors quick and effective regulation should they run into trouble. FINRA isn’t part of the government, but are authorized by congress to protect American investors in Florida and nationwide. Of course every investor assumes they are trading in a fair financial market, and FINRA’s regulatory efforts make this true the majority of the time.

However, there are predatory practices employed by brokers which can lead to losses on your end. If you find yourself in this situation, it’s likely that you have already agreed to solve any disputes through arbitration. When entering into arbitration for financial disputes there are many guidelines and procedures which have strict deadlines and must be followed accordingly. Failure to properly fill out paperwork, provide documentation, respond to motions, etc. can all invalidate your claim, resulting in potentially huge losses on your end. A qualified FINRA lawyer in Florida will help you navigate the many facets of securities arbitration and make sure that your claim is not only handled according to all of FINRA’s procedures, but handled in a way which ensures the best possible outcome for investors.

The Law Offices of Place and Hanley are experienced FINRA lawyers who help investors in Naples, Fort Myers, Sarasota, Tampa, greater Florida and nationwide settle their FINRA related disputes or arbitration. To have your case evaluated for free by experienced FINRA lawyers, contact The Law Offices of Place and Hanley, LLC.

Categories: FINRA Arbitration and Florida Securities Attorneys.

FINRA Fines and Suspends Kenneth Brannen

Kenneth Ray Brannen (CRD #1861189, Lakeland, Florida) submitted an AWC in which
he was assessed a deferred fine of $5,000, suspended from association with any FINRA
member in any capacity for 30 business days, and ordered to pay $1,600, plus interest, in
restitution to a customer. Without admitting or denying the findings, Brannen consented
to the sanctions and to the entry of findings that he borrowed $1,800 from his customer
without his member firm’s knowledge or approval. The findings stated that to date,
Brannen has repaid $200. The loan did not fall within any of the exceptions to the firm’s
policy prohibiting registered representatives from borrowing funds from any clients.
The suspension is in effect from September 8, 2015, through October 19, 2015. (FINRA Case
#2014040687301)

If you have suffered investment losses as a result of your broker’s or brokerage firm’s misconduct, contact the Law Offices of Place & Hanley, LLC to discuss your legal options.  The Law Offices of Place & Hanley, LLC is dedicated to helping investors nationwide.  If you have lost money as a result of your broker’s recommendations, you may be entitled to recover your investment losses.  Contact our office toll free at (866) 318-4725 for a complimentary initial consultation.

Categories: Broker Investigations, Florida Securities Attorneys, Investor Protection, and Securities Broker Misconduct.

What is Securities Arbitration?

Securities Arbitration is the process, which takes place following a dispute with a broker or dealer. Prior to arbitration, the investor has determined that the broker engaged in some form of wrongdoing, or otherwise negligent action that resulted in a loss. Depending on the amount of the claim, the investor may or may not have to appear before an arbitrator or group of arbitrators. Arbitration is an alternative to settling in court and is often the preferred method of dispute resolution because it is typically faster and less expensive.

While typically a contract between a firm and investor is what provides ground for arbitration, the absence of a contractual agreement does not mean that the dispute cannot be settled through arbitration. If the broker or firm is registered with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, they are bound to FINRAs procedural guidelines, which include the duty to participate in arbitration when a conflict arises.

Arbitration is NOT an investor complaint. If you want to make FINRA aware of any suspicious activity then you should file an investor complaint. Arbitration is similar to a court case, with formal proceedings but for the reasons stated above is a simpler and quicker alternative to litigation. If a claim is under $50,000 then the dispute can be settled through what is known as “Simplified Arbitration”. In this scenario, parties provide case materials, which are reviewed by an arbitrator; this does not require parties to appear in person. For cases involving larger sums, arbitration takes place in-person and is reviewed by a panel of up to 3 arbitrators.

To initiate an arbitration, the investor must submit what is known as a “Statement of Claim”. The statement of claim must be articulate and while there is no standardized format, following the format of a suit in court is effective. The statement of claim should include all the pertinent information that the arbitrator(s) need to make an intelligent decision. This included the nature of the dispute, any background information, dates, types of securities at hand, names of the parties involved, the kind of transactions that took place and the damages sought.

Following the statement of claim, the respondents must answer to the allegations. This must also be detailed and simple denial will not suffice. At this point in time the respondent can file a counter-claim against the investor or a 3rd party involved. Once the submission of facts from either side is received by FINRA, a hearing location is chosen. Before the hearing is a discover period, where documentation is provided and exchanged amongst parties involved and FINRA officials. This stage is a window of opportunity for the assertive attorney as it is the opportunity to obtain any and all relevant information from the other party prior to the hearing. Often, the persistence of a dedicated attorney during the prehearing discovery phase can result in a favorable verdict for their client.

The hearing itself is scheduled in advance and follows a similar format to a case in court. Witnesses are interviewed, cross-examined and evidence is produced. A series of questions are asked and there are multiple stages before the process is concluded. The arbitrators will determine what awards are served usually within 30 days of the last hearing. The award will include the basic facts of the dispute but does not have to provide justification or rationale behind the actual dollar amount awarded. The opportunity to appeal a decision exists on the state and federal level but it is rarely ever successful.

The Law Offices of Place & Hanley is a Naples, Florida based firm who have an extensive track record of successfully securing awards for their clients. The arbitration process is complex and difficult to navigate without the guidance and advocacy that skilled attorneys can provide. Place & Hanley offers a free case evaluation to determine the best course of action for you.

Categories: FINRA Arbitration, Florida Securities Attorneys, Securities Broker Misconduct, Securities Fraud, Securities Information, and Securities Investigations.

Florida FINRA Litigation

FINRA is the financial institution which regulates securities and the financial market. FINRA attorneys focus their practice on niche areas of FINRA law, whether they are defending brokers against regulatory inquiries, working on arbitration claims involving both investors & brokers, or defending investors against predatory broker practices. Most, if not every, brokerage firm requires potential investors to agree to resolve any disputes through FINRA arbitration. This is usually outlined in the opening documents, and states specifically that any issues will be settled through FINRA dispute resolution. Legal professionals with experience representing both investors & brokers before FINRA arbitrators should be familiar with all procedures, the forum & arbitrators. With their experience and knowledge, the first step to take if you have an issue with an investment should be to contact an accomplished FINRA attorney. They know how to properly prosecute cases on the behalf of both brokers and investors.

If you are an investor, they are many ways that you might feel you’ve been wronged by a broker or financial institution. You might believe that an investment made was unsuitable to your investment portfolio, or that an investment was made based on misleading or even fraudulent statements made by your broker. You might feel that your portfolio was over-concentrated in one industry or area, which resulted in your investments not being profitable or worthwhile. Even more concerning, you might feel your account was subjected to unauthorized trading, or churning (excessive trading to increase broker commissions). However you might feel that your investments have been mishandled, it’s important to consult with an attorney experienced in FINRA litigation to evaluate your case and determine any legal discourse necessary.

Most investment issues are resolved through securities arbitration, and as stated earlier, many brokers outline this requirement in their opening documents. Securities arbitration has become the most popular means of resolving broker-dealer conflicts in Florida and nationwide, largely due to a Supreme Court decision in 1987, and has long been used as it provides a quick and inexpensive alternative to arbitrating through the courts. After beginning the arbitration process, there are many different factors which need to be determined and decided upon by all involved parties, including arbitrator panel composition, hearing locations, and other details related to the arbitration process. While cases typically take between 1 year and 14 months to resolve, the process can be delayed or expedited depending on the complexity of the issue or the discovery timeline.

In Orlando and Florida, there are strict deadlines and regulations related to securities arbitration that can elude an inexperienced individual. If you are concerned about your investments it’s important to consult an experienced attorney who understands all FINRA litigation and arbitration requirements as they relate to Florida. Contact the Law Offices of Place and Hanley to have your case evaluated for free and determine the legal validity and potential outcomes of your unique situation.

Categories: Broker Fraud, Broker Investigations, FINRA Arbitration, and Florida Securities Attorneys.

Fraud Lawyers in Florida

Investing in securities can be a great way to secure your financial future; however, it’s important to understand the ways your investments can be mishandled. Understanding the different types of fraudulent activity that can occur is crucial if you plan to invest your money. Making an arrangement with a stockbroker should be carefully considered, as there are many ways that your investments can be mishandled. Stockbroker fraud constitutes a large portion of all lawsuits related to securities, so understanding the different ways your broker could be mishandling your accounts is essential for investors.

You might feel that your investments are unsuitable to your portfolio, over-concentrated in one area or industry, were misrepresented to you (either by purposefully withholding information or presenting misleading information), or that your broker was churning your investments. Churning refers to when a broker trades excessively on your behalf to increase their commissions. Insurance and annuity fraud is often subject to this; annuities, for example, offer some of the highest commissions for stockbrokers, and as such can be misrepresented or sold to investors when it is not in their best interest.

In addition to stockbroker fraud, there are other abuses that regulatory agencies like FINRA & the SEC (Securities & Trade Commission) look out for. Insider trading, fraud and market manipulation also occur in the industry, when individuals privy to certain company information use that information to help theirs or others investments. Investment schemes need to also be considered – these include methods for stealing investor’s money, using misrepresentation and instilling false hope into the investor. A well-known example of an investment scheme is the Ponzi scheme – Where brokers will use the money from new investors to pay their current clients, rather than money generated from the investment. To this end, when the Ponzi scheme is shut down, there isn’t enough real money that can be used to pay back investors. Pyramid schemes are another example of an investment scheme.

Securities violations come in many different forms and carry severe punishments. The process for solving these issues can come in the form of litigation or, more commonly, arbitration, and anyone looking to recover damages from a securities lawsuit should fully understand both options and the prerequisites to filing a claim. If you feel your investments have been mishandled or you may have been subject to securities abuses, it’s important to speak with an attorney who specializes in securities arbitration and litigation. The Law Offices of Place and Hanley offer free case evaluations and can help you navigate through your claim.

Categories: Broker Fraud, Florida Securities Attorneys, Securities Broker Misconduct, and Securities Fraud.

Securities Law in Florida

Securities are investments that can take different shapes. Stocks, bonds and options are all examples of securities, bought and sold by individuals or larger entities such as corporations, with the expected goal being a growth in profit.

Because consumers typically invest substantial amounts and are expecting positive outcomes in the future, it also goes that the company providing the investment is trustworthy and ethical. Knowing which type of security to purchase and which company to purchase from necessitates proper research and analysis. However, even with a great amount of research, there remains the potential for abuse. In order to avoid abuses of these investments, rules and regulations have been erected to monitor the security industry.

The securities industry is regulated by federal and state-level government agencies, like the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and also by non-government agencies like the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). Additionally, many states also have their own laws regarding securities.

The types of abuses these regulatory agencies look out for vary. As an investor, it is important to be aware of some of these abuses.

Company abuses involve things like insider trading, fraud and market manipulation. Individuals within a company may not use knowledge only they are privy to in order to.

Broker abuses occur when brokers make trades without investor consent, provide false representation of an investment or promote an investment to an inappropriate investor.

Investment schemes are methods for stealing investors’ money, using tricks, misrepresentation and false hope.

Securities investments can be a great way for growing profit and helping to secure your future financially. However, there is also risk involved, especially when the industry is tainted by dishonest people falsely claiming to have your best interests at heart.

If you believe you have been wronged as an investor, you have several options. Securities arbitration or litigation can help you to recover your losses. Typically, securities claims are handled through arbitration. If you are part of a group of wronged investors, you may be entitled to be part of a class action lawsuit.

The rules and regulations surrounding the securities industry are complex and require a thorough knowledge to understand the intricate details. If you believe you may have a securities claim, it is vital to get in touch with a Florida securities office. The Law Offices of Place and Hanley are experts in securities arbitration and litigation and can help you to determine what kind of claim applies in your case.

Categories: Florida Securities Attorneys.

What Is Securities Arbitration?

Florida Securities Lawyers

Litigation and arbitration are both ways of settling disputes. Both methods consist of filing a complaint and providing evidence using documentation or witnesses. Litigation is played out in a courtroom, with the case heard and decided by a judge and/or jury. Arbitration, on the other hand, is a private affair and is the process is called a final hearing. In arbitration, a panel of impartial arbitrators listens to and decides the case. In general, arbitration is faster and less costly than litigation.

Securities arbitration is a typically favored way of handling disputes amongst brokerage firms, and amongst firms and clients. Generally, arbitration is used as a substitute for litigation if both parties have agreed on arbitration, or they have previously signed a contract that states disputes are to be settled in arbitration.

If you have a claim against your broker and/or their firm, it is likely that you have already agreed to settle matters in arbitration. In the brokerage industry, arbitration agreements are often part of client contracts.

Some of the most common arbitration claims brought by investors against brokerage firms are:

  • Unauthorized trading
  • Churning
  • Omission/misrepresentation
  • Negligence
  • Over-concentration

These are only some of the types of securities arbitration claims. As an investor, it is important to pay close attention to your brokerage firm. If you feel you have been treated unfairly, taken advantage of, or even if you only suspect suspicious activity, it is important to contact a qualified securities lawyer. They will better be able to analyze your claim and help you move forward.

If you believe you have been a victim of broker misconduct, you require the assistance of a Florida Securities Lawyer. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Place and Hanley are experienced in securities arbitration and litigation, and will help you to determine the proper course of action regarding your claim.

Categories: Florida Securities Attorneys.

Attention Purchasers of Swingplane Ventures, Inc., Goff Corp., Norstra Energy Inc. and Xumanii Stock

If you bought any of these stocks from a stockbroker, you may be entitled to a recovery.

The Securities and Exchange Commission has charged five offshore entities with offering and selling unregistered penny stocks into the public markets.

According to the SEC’s complaint filed on February 6, 2015, Cayman Islands-based, Caledonian Bank Ltd. and Caledonian Securities Ltd., Belize-based, Clear Water Securities, Inc. and Legacy Global Markets S.A., and Panama-based, Verdmont Capital S.A. (collectively, the “Defendants”) conducted unregistered sales of securities, reaping over $75 million in illegal sales proceeds. Simultaneous with filing its complaint, the SEC obtained an emergency court order freezing assets of the Defendants located in the United States.

The SEC alleges that the Defendants sold penny stocks in unregistered distributions from their U.S. brokerage accounts of four shell company issuers, namely, Swingplane Ventures, Inc., Goff Corp., Norstra Energy Inc. and Xumanii, Inc. Each of the unregistered distributions took place through virtually the same scheme. The issuers first filed with the Commission bogus Forms S-1 that purported to register sales of securities to public investors when, in fact, no bona fide sales occurred because the securities purportedly sold remained in the control of the issuers and their affiliates. In the sham offerings, the issuers pretended to sell securities to investors residing in such places as Serbia, Mexico, Ireland, Norway, Panama, and Jamaica, while the issuers or their affiliates maintained control and possession of the stock certificates in a scheme where: (1) restricted stock was passed off as “free trading” unrestricted stock; (2) the share certificates issued were subsequently transferred, without restrictive legends, to the Defendants; and (3) the Defendants deposited the shares into their U.S. brokerage accounts and sold the shares to the public.

The complaint further alleges that the issuers or their affiliates directed the transfers of restricted securities to the Defendants, often through various offshore nominee entities intended to conceal beneficial ownership of the securities. Once the shares, which were controlled throughout by the issuers or its affiliates, were held in names of the Defendants, the shell company issuers announced a reverse-merger or business combination with a purportedly operating enterprise. The Defendants then offered and sold into the public markets hundreds of millions of shares of the four issuers in unregistered distributions simultaneously with aggressive and extensive promotion campaigns. Each of the four stocks lost virtually all of their market value within months of the unregistered sales. In doing so, the complaint alleges that the Defendants operated as affiliates, dealers, sales outlets and underwriters by offering and selling the penny stocks from brokerage accounts in the United States.

If you bought Swingplane Ventures, Inc., Goff Corp., Norstra Energy Inc. and Xumanii Stock contact Place & Hanley, LLC for a Free Initial Consultation

Call (866) 318-4725

Categories: Florida Securities Attorneys, Investor Protection, and Securities Investigations.

Place & Hanley Investigating Claims Involving Fredrik Magnus Virgin and Merrill Lynch Pierce Fenner and Smith, Inc.

Place & Hanley is currently investigating claims against Fredrik Magnus Virgin (CRD No. 2743410) and Merrill Lynch Pierce Fenner and Smith, Inc. (“Merrill Lynch”) (CRD No.: 7691). The Law Offices of Place & Hanley, LLC recently filed a FINRA Arbitration claim on behalf of Claimants in which it was alleged that the broker, Fredrick Magnus Virgin, sold an elderly investor a single life Nationwide annuity. On the date of issuance, the investor was 77 years old and legally blind.

The Nationwide Annuity Application lists the investor’s nephew as the primary beneficiary. Furthermore, the application provides that the nephew is to receive 100% of the benefit, confirms that he is the annuitant’s nephew, and also confirms his social security number and birth date. Upon the investor’s passing, the nephew was denied any death benefit payment by Nationwide. Nationwide advised that the annuity contract had a single life payout option which guaranteed the payments for the lifetime of the annuitant only. In a single life payout option, all payments cease with the last payment due prior to the death of the annuitant. Claimants allege that the investor clearly intended to elect a beneficiary to his Nationwide annuity since he completed the beneficiary section on his annuity application and provided all necessary information to elect a beneficiary to his annuity.

The annuity contract at issued was entered into when the investor was 77 years old. The investor lost a significant portion of his originally invested principal, plus the loss of a reasonable return on his investment, because he did not live long enough for his monthly annuity payments to equal to the original purchase price of the annuity. In order for the investor to have broken even on his investment, he would have had to live to be over 85 years old. Claimants allege that there was no reasonable basis to recommend a single life payout annuity to a senior who was 77 years old at the time of purchase. Furthermore, it is alleged that the policy application clearly evidences that it was the investor’s intention to name a beneficiary to the annuity as all the necessary information to elect a beneficiary was provided on the annuity application.

Claimants have alleged that Respondent violated industry rules, including but not limited to FINRA’s customer suitability standard (Rule 2111) as well as FINRA rules 3110 and 2010. Thus, it is alleged that Merrill Lynch violated the duty of care and was negligent. Claimants further allege that Merrill Lynch breached the contract that was entered into and also breached the fiduciary duty that a securities firm and its employees/agents owe to their clients. Claimants alleged that Respondent’s misconduct constitutes common law fraud. Moreover, Claimants allege that the account at issue was handled negligently and Merrill Lynch was negligent in their supervision of Virgin. As such, Claimants allege that Merrill Lynch is liable for their conduct and the conduct of their employees by virtue of the doctrines of agency, respondeat superior, and vicarious liability.

If you were a client of Fredrik Magnus Virgin or Merrill Lynch Pierce Fenner and Smith, Inc. and have suffered investment losses, please contact the Law Offices of Place & Hanley, LLC to explore your legal options. The Law Offices of Place & Hanley, LLC is dedicated to helping investors who have been victims of securities fraud. If you have lost money as a result of securities fraud, you may be able to recover your financial losses. Contact us today toll free at (866)318-4725 for a free initial consultation.

Categories: Broker Investigations, FINRA Arbitration, Florida Securities Attorneys, General, Life Insurance, and Securities Broker Misconduct.

Different types of Securities Fraud – Florida FINRA Lawyers

The Florida FINRA Lawyers of Place & Hanley have been nationally recognized due to their success of representing investors in securities claims and arbitration. Guided by the firm belief of clients having a right to seek financial reimbursement for the harm done by their broker, our FINRA lawyers in Florida have successfully recovered millions of dollars for individual investors by handling arbitration claims through FINRA and class action litigation. In an effort to increase awareness of securities fraud, our Florida FINRA lawyers have listed the different types of securities fraud below.

Securities fraud covers a wide range of illegal activities that aim to deceive investors. The most common securities frauds are listed below:

Pyramid Schemes

There are different types of pyramid schemes, but the main characteristic of a pyramid scheme involves selling products and recruiting members. Recruiters entice potential investors with the promise of a fail-safe investment opportunity. The main characteristic of a pyramid scheme is the recruitment of members. The only way a pyramid scheme makes money is through the continued recruitment of more members.

Pyramid schemes are doomed to fail because the only way to make a return on investment is through continued recruitment. You would have to continue to find more and more people to recruit and failure to do so means toppling over the pyramid.

Broker Embezzlement

Broker Embezzlement occurs when you legally entrust your assets to a broker who then proceeds to misappropriate the assets entrusted to them. This type of fraud is common to investors and our Florida FINRA lawyers have had their fair share of such cases. If you’ve been a victim to this type of fraud, contact our FINRA lawyers for a case evaluation today.

High Yield Investment Fraud

High yield investment frauds can be summed up in the following sentence: “Too good to be true.” This type of fraud typically involves unregistered investments created by unlicensed individuals that yield high rates of return with no risk. Lately, this type of fraud has been taking off through internet marketing with the use of websites and social media. They try and lure investors by creating an online illusion and generating online approval that may persuade potential investors.

As we mentioned earlier, securities fraud covers a large range of illegal activities and the three listed above are just the most common cases our Florida FINRA attorneys have come across. In order to prevent and avoid becoming a victim to securities fraud, remember the following guidelines:

  • Ask yourself, “Is the offer too good to be true?” If it is, you may be getting scammed.
  • Stay vigilant and cynical. Don’t believe everything the seller says and do your own research to make sure everything checks out.
  • Even the best can be tricked. If you’ve been the victim of fraud, contact our Florida FINRA lawyers for help with your case.

The Law Offices of Place & Hanley represent investors in claims against their brokers, broker dealers, investment advisors, financial advisors and insurance companies. Contact our office today for a free no obligation consultation today.

Categories: Florida Securities Attorneys.