FINRA fined and suspended former Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. broker Thomas David Sharp of Carmichael, California for sending multiple e-mails concerning non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs) to customers that, according to FINRA, were inaccurate, not fair and not balanced.
According to the investigation, Sharp's 2009 e-mail to a first customer claimed that one REIT was purchasing properties where baby boomers spent their money, such as ski resorts, golf courses and other retail attractions. In this e-mail, Sharp claimed that these properties were "doing well," that people were "flocking there," and that the properties were being sold "at bargain prices."
Based on a prospectus supplement, FINRA found that the REIT's largest property owner was undergoing "significant financial difficulties," such that the REIT had to restructure the owner's lease. These financial difficulties surpassed $11 million, yet Sharp allegedly omitted such information from his e-mail to a customer who ultimately agreed to invest $50,000 in the REIT.
The investigation uncovered that in a second e-mail to a different customer, Sharp claimed that REITs were a "new type of investment...which are doing EXTREMELY well right now." Sharp also portrayed the REIT's history dating back to five years prior to the time of the e-mail, even though the REIT did not exist five years prior.
According to FINRA, a second and third customer agreed to invest $25,000 in the REIT, based, in part, upon Sharp's misleading and inaccurate e-mail.
If you have invested with a broker, financial advisor or other professional in a REIT or other complex security based on an unfair, unbalanced, misleading or inaccurate solicitation, whether via e-mail, telephone or otherwise, and such misrepresentation of material fact or other fallaciousness 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.