Trading in a Dead Client's Account Nets Former Wells Fargo Broker Michael Garris a Fine and Suspension

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FINRA suspended and fined former Wells Fargo (Los Angeles, CA) broker Michael David Garris for executing unauthorized transactions in the account of a deceased customer, generating ill-gotten commissions.

AWC #2018059146801 states that Southern California stockbroker Michael Garris, registered with Wells Fargo Clearing Services in Los Angeles from 2011 through 2018, executed 26 unauthorized transactions on the order of approximately $380,000 in the deceased customer's account, despite having spoken six months prior with multiple people via telephone and e-mail—including the departed client's nephew—regarding the fact that his customer had died.

The report states that Garris' improper trading in his dead customer's account months after this client passed away generated $9,313 in commissions, while Garris (CRD #1540384)'s BrokerCheck report indicates that Wells Fargo terminated him in 2018 after a review concluded that he placed trades in a customer's account "without sufficient authorization." Furthermore, Garris purportedly failed to notify Wells Fargo that his customer had died, despite firm policy requiring representatives to notify the firm of a customer's death.

Prior to his association with Wells Fargo, Garris was registered as a broker with Morgan Stanley and Citigroup, both of Sherman Oaks, California.

If you have invested with any broker or financial adviser who has placed unauthorized trades in your account, or whose improper and excessive transactions generated unwanted and harmful commissions and fees resulting in damages or losses, please call our experienced FINRA arbitration attorneys at The Law Offices of Jonathan W. Evans & Associates at (800) 699-1881 for an investigation and consultation.