FINRA sanctioned former Accelerated Capital Group (Irvine, CA) broker and supervisor Jeffrey Alan Smith for making unauthorized photocopies of customer signatures, using pre-signed and altered forms, and causing Accelerated Capital Group (ACG) to have inaccurate books and records.
The report states that Smith (CRD #2400590) from 2012 through 2015 allegedly had customers sign blank forms and made photocopies of some of the blank-signed forms so that he could re-use the customers' signatures, at times using these blank-signed forms to effect transactions. In utilizing pre-signed and altered forms, FINRA wrote, Smith caused ACG's books and records to become inaccurate.
In June 2017, FINRA punished fellow ex-ACG broker Sam Dexter Legaspi, also in Irvine, for similarly possessing a repository of blank forms containing pre-filled customer signatures. Like Smith, FINRA said that Legaspi made photocopies so that he could re-use the customers' signatures, concluding that Legaspi's misconduct amounted to falsification of firm documents.
Unlike registered representative Legaspi, however, Smith was registered with ACG as both a principal/supervisor and a registered representative.
FINRA's present disciplinary action against Smith follows a previous suspension levied against Smith in 2011, when FINRA found that Smith had failed to enforce written supervisory procedures and to supervise firm personnel while associated in a principal capacity with FINRA-member firm Longview Financial Group, Inc., of Costa Mesa. Smith purportedly had failed to supervise associated persons' handling of private placement memoranda and failed to adequately review private placement sales by the firm for suitability. The AWC also held that Smith failed to prevent associated persons from using non-firm, personal e-mail accounts through which to conduct securities business, even though he was allegedly aware of the improper e-mail usage.
In addition to the 2011 AWC, Smith's BrokerCheck report includes several settled and pending customer disputes alleging misrepresentation, unsuitable purchases, excessive commissions, and breach of fiduciary duty. The pending dispute, filed collectively on behalf of four clients, also alleges that Smith engaged common law fraud, including charges of excessive trading, negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, and failure to supervise. The customers seek $750,000 in damages.
One of the settled disputes alleged Smith represented that an annuity's "guaranteed minimum death benefit would total" an amount that was over $100,000 greater than what actually ended up being paid out. The suit was settled for $100,000.
In 2014, FINRA fined ACG (formerly Mark Stewart Securities) $32,500 for using fabricated testimonials and misleading statements in the firm's communications materials, including on their website. For instance, FINRA characterized one online claim advertising "the highest possible degree of safety and profitability" as "exaggerated and unwarranted."
Continuing on a similar theme of discipline at ACG of Irvine, California, FINRA in July barred former ACG broker Jason Michael Belajack for creating and distributing fictitious letters on firm letterhead to an elderly customer, while in 2016, FINRA barred ACG's Bahram Mirhashemi for churning and making excessive and unauthorized trades in customer accounts, including several held by elderly clients.
"Jeff Smith" is still listed as Operations Manager on Accelerated Capital Group's executive team roster, while a LinkedIn page for Jeffrey Smith lists his title as "Managing Director/Chief Compliance Officer at Accelerated Capital Group" of Orange County, California.
Smith's BrokerCheck file lists an additional business activity with "American Asset Advisory, LLC" of Irvine, California. According to the paperwork, Smith is an investment advisory representative at American Asset Advisory, while also operating a business known as "Jeff Smith Inc." in Santa Ana, CA.
If you have invested with former Accelerated Capital Group representative Jeffrey Alan Smith of Orange County, California, or with any broker or financial adviser whose inappropriate utilization of pre-signed, altered, or fabricated forms has improperly authorized a financially damaging transaction or has otherwise 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.