The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority fined and suspended Matthew Donald Newman, formerly of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney in Santa Ana, California, for failing to timely respond to FINRA's multiple requests for information in connection with allegations about modifying an Alternative Mail Instructions form.
According to the FINRA documents, Newman—who served with Morgan Stanley in a non-registered capacity—altered an "Alternative Mail Instructions" form by cutting an original customer signature from a separate firm document and pasting the cut signature onto the Alternative Mail Instructions form.
FINRA discovered the purpose of this form submission was to effect a change of address for the customer; the customer was found to have requested this submission.
Following the alleged misconduct, Morgan Stanley terminated Newman's association.
Though in this scenario, the affected investor was found to have requested the form's submission, FINRA routinely does not authorize firms and their charges to manipulate forms by affixing customer signatures from another source as the potential for abuse or nefarious conduct is real.
For instance, FINRA recently barred Wells Fargo financial advisor Frank Anthony Quartararo, Jr. for forging customer signatures in order to complete several transactions, resulting in the misappropriation of $775,400.
Though Matthew Donald Newman did not serve Morgan Stanley in a registered capacity—indeed, Newman worked as a non-registered fingerprint person as early as 2006 while with Citigroup Global Markets, Inc.—this case affirms that even unlicensed individuals may come into contact with firm documents related to investment activity.
If you have invested with Morgan Stanley or another firm that has written, completed and submitted forms on your behalf—with or without authorization—and this modified submission has proven harmful to your investments or interests, please call The Law Offices of Jonathan W. Evans & Associates at (800) 699-1881 for an investigation and consultation.