Meyer Wilson Principal Courtney Werning Quoted in Wall Street Journal

How Financial Advisers May Be Hiding Claims, Complaints, and Lawsuits

Attorney Courtney Werning of Meyer Wilson was recently quoted in The Wall Street Journal speaking on the disclosure requirements of investment advisers, or rather the lack thereof. 

At Meyer Wilson, we are a nationally recognized investment misconduct law firm. We have secured millions of dollars on behalf of aggrieved investors across the country. Attorney Courtney Werning and the entire team works tirelessly to inform investors about their rights and the requirements of the financial professionals they entrust. 

If you have sustained losses due to your broker or investment adviser’s wrongdoing, contact our office at (614) 532-4576 to schedule a free consultation. 

Investment Advisers and Disclosure Requirements

As reported by The Wall Street Journal, investment advisers (who now manage over $128 trillion) have fewer disclosure requirements than stockbrokers when it comes to “civil lawsuits, customer complaints, and arbitration claims.” Investment advisers, who are regulated by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission or the states, are only required to disclose what they deem “material” to clients and prospective clients.

When interviewed, Meyer Wilson principal Courtney Werning, noted “I find it a little bit perverse that ad­vis­ers who are supposedly held to a higher stan­dard of due care and dili­gence have less disciplinary disclosure requirements than a brokerage firm. That surprised the hell out of me when I found it out not that long ago.”  Ms. Werning had recently written a bar journal article highlighting the problems with investment adviser disclosure requirements as they currently stand.  

Holding Investment Advisers Accountable for Misconduct

Stockbrokers and brokerage firms, unlike investment advisers, are regulated by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). They are required to make disclosures regarding customer disputes and other complaints or regulatory actions on the agency’s BrokerCheck website. They do not get to pick and choose what they disclose - there are bright line rules they have to follow.  

Investment advisers (fiduciaries), by contrast, are allowed by current regulations to subjectively decide what one of their clients or prospective clients would find material to making a choice about their adviser.  

Hiring an Investor Claim Attorney

It is generally in your best interest to retain an attorney if you suspect that your investment adviser or stockbroker has violated state or federal law. 

An investment adviser (and their employer) may still be held liable for misconduct including breach of fiduciary duty. An attorney can help you understand your rights and your legal options if your financial adviser has abused your trust. 

Contact Meyer Wilson for a Free Claim Evaluation

Did your investment adviser fail to disclose material information? Contact our office at (614) 532-4576 to discuss your case with an investor claims attorney today. We offer free, no-obligation consultations. 

At Meyer Wilson, we have represented thousands of investors recovering over $350 million in losses. Our team is dedicated to ensuring that our clients receive the best possible outcome on their cases. Do not wait. Call today to discuss your case and determine whether you are eligible to pursue arbitration or file a lawsuit against a liable party.

Ma Rosa Linan Abrego Barred by FINRA Over Misappropriation Inquiry

Ms. Abrego was recently barred by FINRA in the wake of allegations that she misappropriated client funds. Hailing from McAllen, Texas, Ms. Abrego was terminated by Merrill Lynch on June 10, 2019, after spending just three years at the company and in the securities industry at large. Merrill Lynch reported that she was terminated due to the misappropriation of client funds.

After Ms. Abrego’s termination, FINRA opened an investigation to determine if misappropriation had indeed taken place under her tenure as a broker. However, Ms. Abrego failed to appear for the inquiry as mandated by FINRA Rule 8210. Under Rule 8210, brokers are required to show up and cooperate with investigators – or risk becoming permanently barred from holding a position in the securities industry.

Knowing this, Ms. Abrego still chose not to appear before FINRA investigators or provide testimony about her actions at Merrill Lynch. As noted in her publicly-available BrokerCheck report, “Linan Abrego consented to the sanction and to the entry of findings that she refused to appear for on-the-record testimony as requested by FINRA.”

What Counts as Misappropriation of Funds?

Misappropriation of client funds is perhaps one of the most serious forms of investor misconduct, as it is defined as the illegal and intentional use of funds for an unauthorized purpose. Aside from facing FINRA sanctions and a lifetime ban in the securities industry, those who misappropriate client funds may be subject to both criminal and civil proceedings as well.  

At Meyer Wilson, we’re committed to holding investors accountable when their actions cause you to suffer financial harm. If you or someone you know has been affected by the misconduct of Ma Rosa Linan Abrego, you could be entitled to damages for your losses. Bringing over 50 years of legal experience to the table, our investment fraud attorneys can help you seek fair compensation.

For more information, contact our legal team at (614) 532-4576.

Did Michael Chandler of Infinex Investments Inc. Sell You Non-Traded REITs?

Meyer Wilson is investigating allegations that Michael Chandler, a Mississippi-based broker and investment adviser, recommended unsuitable, illiquid investments, including non-traded Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs). Chandler currently works for Infinex Investments Inc.

Chandler has been the subject of two customer disputes, one of which is still pending. Both allege non-traded REITs were inappropriately sold to Chandler’s customers. Infinex Investments Inc. settled one dispute after a customer alleged Chandler failed to disclose risks associated with non-traded REITs.

Non-traded REITs are highly risky, illiquid, and rarely suitable for most investors. They are not traded on a public exchange and cannot be sold readily in the market. FINRA has warned that this lack of liquidity creates a level of risk that is not suitable for most investors. Brokers are aware of why non-traded REITs are highly risky – they carry high fees, have limited liquidity, unclear distributions, valuation problems, and limited diversification.

Brokers have a duty to only recommend suitable investments in the best interest of their clients, and also to obtain sufficient information through reasonable diligence to ascertain a client’s investment profile. Failure to do so may result in liability for recommending unsuitable investments.

If you suffered losses in an account managed by Michael Chandler, the experienced attorneys at Meyer Wilson would like to speak with you. Contact us today for a no-cost, no-pressure consultation to discuss your legal options.

Did Gustavo Miramontes Make Unauthorized and Unsuitable Trades in Your Account?

Meyer Wilson is investigating allegations that California-based broker Gustavo Miramontes engaged in unauthorized, unsuitable trading. Miramontes currently works for Oppenheimer & Co. Inc. He worked for Wedbush Securities, Inc. up to 2018.

Miramontes has been the subject of multiple customer disputes alleging unauthorized and unsuitable trades in customers’ accounts. Five disputes are still pending. His previous employers settled complaints for similar behavior, including a $431,401.45 settlement by Wedbush Securities Inc.

Unauthorized trading occurs when your financial professional makes trades on your account without your authorization. Your broker must obtain your permission before buying or selling anything for your account unless you’ve signed a written trading authorization that allows your broker to buy and sell securities in your account without having to contact you. However, that does not mean your broker can misuse or exceed this authority. Brokers and their firms who make unsuitable or unauthorized trades may be held liable for any sustained financial losses.

The securities and investment fraud lawyers at Meyer Wilson have the skills and experience that are specifically suited to the needs of victims of investment fraud. If you suffered losses due to Gustavo Miramontes’ unauthorized and unsuitable trading, contact us today for a free consultation to discuss your legal options.

Did You Lose Money in an Account Managed by Former Cetera Investment Advisers Broker Hui Zhang?

Meyer Wilson is investigating allegations that California-based broker and investment adviser Hui Zhang misrepresented in the recommendation of unsuitable, illiquid Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs), including ARC Healthcare Trust. Zhang currently works for Independent Financial Group, LLC. He previously worked for Cetera Investment Advisers LLC.

Three customer disputes were filed against Zhang in connection with his work at Cetera Investment Advisers LLC. One dispute was settled and two are currently pending. Because non-traded REITs do not trade on a public exchange, the underlying real estate must be sold before investors can get their money back. The lack of liquidity makes them highly risky for investors. Regulators have warned that non-traded REITs are unsuitable for most investors. Healthcare Trust, Inc. (formerly ARC Healthcare Trust) is a non-traded REIT that purchases a portfolio of healthcare related real estate properties.

Investment advisers like Hui Zhang are fiduciaries to their clients and must act only in their clients’ best interests. If you suffered losses as a result of Zhang’s misrepresentation, the experienced securities and investment fraud attorneys at Meyer Wilson are interested in hearing from you. Contact us today for a no-cost, no-pressure consultation to discuss your legal options.

Did Michael May Engaged in Unsuitable Trades in Your Account?

Meyer Wilson is investigating allegations that Michael May, a New York-based broker, engaged in excessive and unsuitable trading in customer’s accounts, with significant margin exposure and interest. May has been working for VCS Venture Securities since October 2021. He previously worked for Joseph Stone Capital.

Michael May was recently suspended by FINRA for three months in connection with allegations that he engaged in excessive and unsuitable trading, including the use of margin, in a customer’s account.

A previous customer dispute alleging May recommended unsuitable and unauthorized transactions was settled.

If you suffered financial losses due to Michael May’s account management, the experienced securities and investment fraud attorneys at Meyer Wilson would like to speak with you. Contact us today for a free consultation to discuss your legal options.

Did Christopher Bond Engage in Unauthorized Trading in Your Account?

Meyer Wilson is investigating allegations that New York broker Christopher Bond engaged in unauthorized trading in a customer’s account. Bond has been registered with the brokerage firm National Securities Corporation since 2004.

Bond has been the subject of two prior customer disputes – one related to the sale of a private placement and one alleging that Bond gave his clients’ unsuitable investment recommendations.

In February 2022, FINRA suspended Bond in connection with allegations that he engaged in unauthorized trading by exercising discretion in a customer’s account without written authorization.

If you or someone you know suffered financial losses in an account managed by Christopher Bond, the experienced securities arbitration attorneys at Meyer Wilson would like to speak with you. Please contact us today for a no-cost, no-pressure consultation to discuss your legal options.

Top 10 Warning Signs of Investment Fraud

How Investors Can Protect Themselves and Their Money

Investment fraud is prevalent in the United States and around the world. Scammers have targeted even the most sophisticated investors, promising high returns with little-to-no risk. To protect your investment, you should be on the lookout for fraudulent schemes and scams and report any suspicious activity to the appropriate authorities.

At Meyer Wilson, we provide dedicated representation to individuals who have been the victim of investment fraud and stockbroker misconduct. Our nationally-recognized legal team has handled over a thousand investor claim cases, recovering over $350 million on behalf of harmed investors.

If you have suffered investment losses, contact our office at (866) 827-6537 to have your case reviewed by an experienced attorney. 

Investment Fraud Red Flags

Fraudsters use a number of tactics to manipulate investors. Educating yourself about common red flags can help protect your assets and prevent bad actors from stealing your investment.

Be aware of these top 10 investment fraud warning signs:

  1. “Risk-Free” Opportunities

Nothing is without risk. As noted by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), all investments carry some degree of risk. If an investment is described as risk-free or carries little-to-no risk, it may not be worth investing.

  1. Promises of Guaranteed Returns

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. A “guaranteed” investment should certainly be considered a red flag. There are no guarantees, as all investments can carry some risk. Be wary of “high yield investments” or when an investment is described as having a “high return with low risk.”

  1. High-Pressure Sales Tactics

It is not unusual for a bad actor to use high-pressure sales tactics to get you to invest in a scam. The person may make claims that they received a “hot tip” or are privy to “insider information.” All of these phrases should alarm you as an investor.

You should never feel pressured into investing. If a person is overly aggressive or demands that you act now, they may be pushing a scheme that they know is fraudulent.

  1. Unlicensed Professional

You should always check whether the person trying to sell you the investment is licensed. Registered representatives are required to be licensed with FINRA or through the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Both agencies offer ways to verify whether a person has the appropriate licensing. You can also check with your state securities regulator.

Never purchase an investment from someone who is not licensed. You can check whether a financial professional is registered through FINRA BrokerCheck or look up an investment adviser on the SEC’s Investment Adviser Public Disclosure website.

  1. Unregistered Securities

Unregistered securities should also raise concerns. This may include stocks without a stock symbol or products where the underlying asset is unclear or undisclosed.

Investment fraud is widespread; doing your own research and due diligence can help you avoid suffering losses.

  1. Lack of Communication

The promoter of an investment should be ready and willing to share information about the product. A lack of communication, unanswered questions, or the hint of evasiveness are all problematic. You should not feel confused about your investment. Fraudsters often count on an investor’s lack of sophistication or knowledge.

  1. Short on Details

Any investment that is not clearly described should be avoided. A person trying to convince you to invest in a scam may tell you that the details of the product are very technical or complicated. Any investment that relies on a complex strategy likely comes with high risk. Always ask for documentation and clarity about the actual investment.

  1. The Source of the Opportunity

How did you learn about the opportunity? Was it from an “investment seminar” or an unsolicited email? Did you receive a cold call or materials sent in the mail? Many of these sources offer misleading information that lacks crucial details. Only invest with registered representatives that offer clear-cut information about the investment opportunity.

  1. Limited Time Offers

A clear indication that something may be a scam is if it is sold as a “limited time offer.” Bad actors may try to convince you that there are only a few investments left. Do not be lured with this false sense of urgency.

10. Other Investors

Finally, be aware that fraudsters may try to use peer pressure to get you to buy into the scam. They may tell you that “everyone is buying it” or even that friends and family have already invested.

Do not solely rely on what a promoter is telling you. Do independent research on the investment to determine whether it is a good fit for you and your portfolio.

Recovering Losses After Fraud

If you suspect that you suffered losses due to investment fraud, contact our office at (866) 827-6537. All consultations are free and without obligation to retain our services. We accept investor claims on a contingency fee basis, meaning you do not pay our firm fees unless we recover losses on your behalf.

5 Ways to Protect Your Cryptocurrency From Fraud & Hacking

Safeguarding Your Cryptocurrency and Other Digital Assets

In the past two years, the price of cryptocurrency has skyrocketed, reaching historic highs in late 2021 before cooling slightly earlier this year. The meteoric rise of the crypto industry has attracted investors from across the globe and bad actors hoping to defraud crypto holders out of millions.

At Meyer Wilson, we represent investors who have been victimized by fraud or misconduct. Our experienced investment fraud attorneys have recovered over $350 million on behalf of aggrieved investors nationwide since 1999. If you are a crypto investor and have been defrauded or hacked, contact our office at (614) 532-4576 for a free case evaluation.

Keeping Your Cryptocurrency Secure

Cryptocurrency holders must remain vigilant to protect their assets from hackers and other forms of cyberattacks. People with large amounts of crypto have become the targets of hackers and other cybercriminals. Crypto investors who have suffered losses are encouraged to contact an investment fraud lawyer to determine their legal options.

Consider these 5 tips to protect your crypto assets:

  1. Be Skeptical

Always be skeptical about things that seem too good to be true. Do your research before investing and avoid schemes that promise huge returns on investment that have not been properly vetted.

Do not click on advertisements, unknown links, or respond to spam-like text messages. Hackers today are extremely sophisticated. Phishing scamsare becoming harder to discern.

One false click can install malware or, worse yet, unknowingly give a third-party access to your device. Never give out your login credentials, passwords, or other personal information.

  1. Add Additional Security Measures

Require a PIN or passcode to open your device and add other security measures for any logins. You should not be relying purely on SMS or text authentication. Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is preferred, which makes you enter more than one credential.

SIM Card Swap Scams are on the rise and have devastating consequences. Adding security measures to your device can help prevent these fraudulent schemes. If you are suddenly unable to make phone calls or send text messages from your mobile phone, contact your cellular provider immediately.

  1. Look for Suspicious Activity

Follow all of your transactions closely. If anything looks suspicious, investigate and report it as soon as possible. There are tools that can help you monitor your accounts for fraud, but you can also set up notifications when any changes are made within your wallet.

Even with monitoring tools set up, you should still routinely scan your wallet for unauthorized transactions. Protecting your cryptocurrency requires vigilance on multiple fronts. Hackers will seek vulnerabilities on your mobile device and your computer, as well as potential weaknesses in the exchanges that you use.

  1. Use Multiple Wallets

Just as you would want to diversify your portfolio, you want to diversify where you keep your wallets. Using multiple wallets can help ensure that if one is hacked, you do not suffer a complete loss.

Large amounts of cryptocurrency should not be stored in an exchange. Exchanges should be limited to funds that you plan to trade, while the bulk of your assets should be stored in a secured “cold wallet.”

Cold wallets, also referred to as hardware wallets, are private and not connected to the internet. They are less vulnerable to the types of attacks that typically afflict crypto holders. Cold wallets can help mitigate your losses.

  1. Change Your Password

It may seem obvious, but you should be changing your password regularly. Passwords should not be the same across your devices or apps.

Your passwords should not contain things that are easily found on social media sites, such as your birthdate, pet name, or anniversary. You can use a password generator or select a mix of numbers, letters, and special characters to make it more difficult for hackers to access your account.

Protecting Your Assets Now and in the Future

While cryptocurrency itself is highly secure, the personal devices, wallets, and exchanges used to trade or store digital assets are not. Cryptocurrency remains largely unregulated, which means that individual investors must take steps to secure their assets.

If you maintain an extensive crypto portfolio, you need to take a broad look at your devices to ensure that they are adequately secured. Contact your mobile carrier to ensure that they are taking steps to prevent data and security breaches.

Stay abreast of the latest scams that are affecting crypto holders, such as SIM Card Swapping. Hackers are savvier and more able to escape detection than in previous years. Doing your due diligence can help safeguard your investments and prevent catastrophic financial loss.

Recovering Losses After a Cryptocurrency Hack

In the event that you suffer losses as a result of a cryptocurrency hack or security breach, our investment fraud lawyers might be able to help.

Contact Meyer Wilson at (866) 827-6537 for a free, no-obligation consultation. Our nationally-recognized legal team can help determine whether you have a valid claim for damages.

David Meyer Asked to Weigh in on New Ohio Investor Recovery Fund

As managing partner of Meyer Wilson, David Meyer was asked to weigh in on Ohio’s new proposed Rule 1301:6-3-471, which seeks to implement the Ohio Investor Recovery Fund. The Fund would allow Ohioans to claim from the Fund up to 25% or $25,000, whichever is less, of their investment losses, if they are identified in a final order issued by the Enforcement Section of the Ohio Division of Securities.

While Meyer and his team are generally supportive of the implementation of Proposed Rule 1301:6-3-471, but he raised concerns that it does not go far enough to have a meaningful impact on the investment fraud problem in Ohio – both because the recovery limit is too low, and because it will not reach enough Ohioans impacted by securities fraud.

Meyer outlined some of the issues with the Recovery Fund as designed and called for lawmaking that requires mandatory insurance for the people who handle clients’ life savings:

“Financial advisers are a rare exception in the professional world. They assume a tremendous responsibility for the life savings of their clients, and yet Ohio does not require that financial professionals managing Ohioan’s life savings carry any kind of professional liability insurance. Most people are shocked to learn that advisors who manage many millions (and often billions) of dollars of investor dollars are not required to carry any liability insurance...My firm, my clients, and I are ready to stand with the Division to do whatever is necessary to enact a minimum insurance mandate for all Ohio broker-dealers and investments advisers.”

You can read the entirety of his letter here.

Meyer is the managing principal of Meyer Wilson, an Ohio-based law firm that focuses on the recovery of investment losses for individuals who were harmed by the misconduct of their financial advisors. Meyer Wilson has represented over 1,000 individual investors in these cases since 1998. Meyer is the immediate Past-President of the Public Investors Advocate Bar Association (PIABA), the current President of the Ohio Association for Justice (OAJ), and the author of the #1 Best Selling Book, The Investor Protector, Stories of Triumph Over Financial Advisors Who Lie, Cheat and Steal.