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Former New York Cetera Investment Broker Barred for Alleged Fraud

David Santos of Niskayuna, New York submitted a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent (AWC) to the Department of Enforcement of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) after allegedly falsifying letters that enabled an imposter to fraudulently transfer funds from a client and execute unauthorized sales of stocks.

Santos entered the securities industry in 1991 when he became associated with a FINRA member firm. In March 1998, Santos became a General Securities Representative (GSR). Between 1998 and 2006, Santos was a GSR with three different FINRA member firms. On September 2, 2006, Santos became registered as a GSR with Cetera Investment Services, LLC (Cetera). Santos later became a General Securities Principal with Cetera in April 2010 and remained there until he was terminated in May 2014.

Without admitting or denying the findings, Santos agreed to the FINRA sanctions that he falsified a customer’s name and executed unauthorized trades. Between February 12, 2014 and April 8, 2014, after receiving email instructions to transfer funds from an imposter who hacked into a Cetera customer’s (JR) account, Santos allegedly falsified JR’s name on ten letters of authorization (LOA’s) and JR’s wife’s name on three LOA’s allowing the imposter to fraudulently transfer $160,000 from JR’s individual and joint brokerage accounts.

According to FINRA, Santos’ misconduct began when a hacker imposter hacked into JR’s email account and sent Santos emails requesting him to transfer funds to a third party bank account. The bank account was not in the name of JR or his wife. Santos purportedly replied requesting a signed LOA to wire funds to a third party account. The imposter using JR’s email allegedly claimed he was unable to provide the LOA and instructed Santos to process the wire without it. Santos allegedly processed the wire and affixed known signatures of JR and his wife on this occasion and nine additional times.

Santos then allegedly executed 12 unauthorized trades in JR’s accounts to fund the transfer requests and mismarked the order tickets for the unauthorized trades as “unsolicited.” The unauthorized sales of stocks and municipal bonds of JR’s individual and joint brokerage accounts were to fund the imposter’s fraudulent wire transfers. Santos did not have authorization to execute these trades.

By falsifying his customer’s signatures on 10 LOAs, executing 12 unauthorized trades and mismarking order tickets, Santos violated FINRA Rules 2010 and 4511. As a consequence, Santos was barred from associating with any FINRA member in any capacity.

Stockbrokers have been known to engage in many types of practices which violate industry and firm rules, practices, and procedures. In order to protect customers from stockbroker misconduct, FINRA rules require broker-dealers like Cetera Investment Services to establish and implement a reasonable supervisory system. The implementation of the rules require supervisors to monitor employees to ensure they comply with federal and state securities laws, securities industry rules and regulations, and the firm, such as Cetera Investment Services’ own policies and procedures. If broker dealers and/or their supervisors do not establish and implement these protective measures, they may be liable to investors for damages which flow from the misconduct. As a result, investors who have suffered losses because of their stockbroker’s unlawful or prohibited conduct can file a claim to recover damages against broker dealers like Cetera Investment Services, which should consistently oversee its employees in order to prevent stockbroker misconduct.

Have you suffered losses in your Cetera Investment Services investment account due to your stockbroker’s misconduct? If so, call Robert Pearce at the Law Offices of Robert Wayne Pearce, P.A. for a free consultation. Mr. Pearce is accepting clients with valid claims against stockbrokers for unsuitable recommendations, misrepresentations, and/or other unauthorized and prohibited conduct.

The most important of investors’ rights is the right to be informed! This Investors’ Rights blog post is by the Law Offices of Robert Wayne Pearce, P.A., located in Boca Raton, Florida. For over 35 years, Attorney Pearce has tried, arbitrated, and mediated hundreds of disputes involving complex securities, commodities, and investment law issues. The lawyers at our law firm are devoted to protecting investors’ rights throughout the United States and internationally! Please post a comment, call (800) 732-2889, send Mr. Pearce an email at pearce@rwpearce.com, and/or visit our website at www.secatty.com for answers to any of your questions about this blog post and/or any related matter.