Articles Posted in Ameritas Investment Corp

Buffalo Sign.jpgThe Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has barred a former Ameritas Investment Corporation broker in Fair Oaks, California, from associating with any FINRA member as part of a securities fraud settlement. According to FINRA, former Ameritas broker Thomas Hammond solicited customers to investment in a “private fund” that offered better than average yields. In reality, the funds were deposited into an account that Hammond controlled and, when one particular customer asked for return of their money, Hammond paid them back using money fraudulently obtained form another customer.

Our securities law firm continues to investigate complaints on behalf of clients who were customers of Ameritas Corp. Click here for all blog posts related to Ameritas Investment Corp.

As repeatedly reported here in the California Securities Fraud Lawyer Blog, we have seen an exponential growth in investor complaints involving the sale of private placements. For those of you unacquainted with the term “private placement,” click here.

swim at own risk.jpgIn a nutshell, private placements are illiquid non-publicly traded investments that are exempt from registration requirements under the Securities Exchange Act. For this reason, only wealthy and sophisticated investors, referred to as “accredited investors,” are allowed to invest in them. In order to qualify as an accredited investor, an individual must have a net worth of $1 million or more. However, this does not mean that it is fair game for stockbrokers and investment advisors to sell private placements to anyone with a paper net worth of $1 million. See related blog posting: Even for Accredited Investors, Stockbroker Recommendations to Buy Private Placements Are Subject to the Suitability Rule.

In an effort to protect smaller investors whose only significant asset is their home, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) recently took steps to limit Regulation D of the Securities Exchange Act of 1933 to exclude an investor’s primary residence from the $1 million net worth calculation. Although the rule became effective February 27, 2012, the net worth prohibition actually took effect back in July 2010 when President Obama signed off on the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009. See blog post: Investor Home Equity to be Excluded from $1 Million Minimum Net-Worth Requirement for Accredited Investors

As noted in a previous blog posting, ALF is pursuing an arbitration claim against Ameritas Investment Corporation on behalf of an investor who borrowed funds to invest in the IMH Secured Loan Fund (now known as IMH Financial Corporation). In an unusual move, Ameritas responded by filing a cross-claim against the broker who sold the investment seeking “contractual and/or common law contribution and/or indemnity” on the basis that any harm or damage suffered was the result of acts or omissions of the broker. It is believed that the broker in question was, at the time, acting in the capacity of an agent or employee of David White & Associates based in San Ramon, California.

As a result of these developments, ALF is stepping up their investigation into this matter and is reaching out to other IMH investors who purchased through brokers employed or affiliated with Ameritas Investment Corporation and/or David White & Associates. ALF is also interested in speaking with current or former brokers employed or affiliated with Ameritas and/or David White & Associates.

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home loan.jpgOur law firm recently filed a securities arbitration claim before the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) on behalf of a Northern California woman who was encouraged by her investment advisor at Ameritas Investment Corporation to take out real estate loans so that she could invest in the IMH Secured Loan Fund, a private placement that was exempt from Federal securities registration requirements. The mistaken assumption in many of these cases is that the high yield offered by the investment can be used to pay the mortgage. Unfortunately for our client, a few months after she made her investment, the fund stopped making interest payments and accepting liquidation requests from investors.

As our client’s case illustrates, using a home loan to make investments is usually a bad idea and, when the investment is a speculative private placement that cannot be publicly traded or easily liquidated, it is never a good idea. [Click here for more information about private placements.] This isn’t the first time that Ameritas has run into trouble for inducing customers to take out additional mortgages and home equity loans to invest. In August 2009, FINRA fined Ameritas $100,000 for failing to adequately supervise a broker who used misleading financial plans to recommend that customers refinance their homes or take out home equity loans to pay for the purchase of securities. FINRA fined the broker $60,000 and suspended her for 60 months.

When it comes to investing in securities, always invest within your means and never bet the farm.

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