Unscrupulous brokers with histories of various misconduct are swarming to hotspots across the nation that feature populations of elderly and wealthy investors, according to a recent study by The Wall Street Journal.
According to the investigation, these hot spots feature heads of households over the age of 65 with incomes over $100,000 at a rate 50% greater than the national average while 13 of these hot spots feature households earning in excess of $200,000 annually.
For instance, Robert Owen Klein is a Newport Beach, California-based broker at J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. who has a history of multiple complaints with three of these complaints settled for a total of $575,000, alleging over concentration, fraud, negligence, misrepresentation, breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty.
Further active and open customer complaints against Klein allege mismanagement of investment accounts, negligence, misrepresentation of risk, unauthorized transactions and unsuitable investments with alleged damages in excess of $5.35 million.
In all, WSJ identified Orange County as one of four California hotspots, with the others being the San Fernando Valley part of Los Angeles, Northern San Diego and Sacramento.
The report points to a specific tactic seen in hot spot markets: "plate-licker seminars" in which pitchmen throw out hardball sales tactics at meetings offering free meals to potential investors. The idea behind such free dinner symposiums is that a few "bites"—or investments—from the large school of fish—or attendees—will pay for the entire event, and then some.
For instance, broker David Lerner agreed to a fine while his firm agreed to pay out $12 million to settle complaints stemming from Lerner's alleged false claims, unsuitable recommendations, inadequate due diligence and excessive markups in connection with sales of a real estate investment trust known as the Apple REIT. The process all began, according to WSJ, at seminars Lerner gave in Boca Raton, Florida, Great Neck, New York and Uniondale, NY.
Perhaps the most telling of the attitudes exhibited by these brokers with troubled pasts comes across in a quote by stockbroker Rafael Golan, who conducted a free food seminar for elderly people on topics from real estate and annuities and who has been ordered by FINRA and state courts alike to pay restitution and fines for complaints that his sales pitches were illicit if not illegal: "It's called prospecting," Golan said of free meal seminars, "just like you do for gold."
If you have invested with Robert Owen Klein or any other broker or financial adviser whose unsuitable recommendations, misrepresentation of risk or other misleading or false statements—perhaps during a free meal seminar—produced investment activity that has proven harmful to your investments or interests, please call The Law Offices of Jonathan W. Evans & Associates at (800) 699-1881 for investigation and consultation.