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Apr 11, 2022 by |

San Francisco Financial Elder Abuse Attorney: Warning Signs and Steps To Protect Seniors From Financial Elder Abuse By Brokers Or Financial Advisors

ATTORNEY NEWSLETTER

All Seniors Are At Risk

Common Red Flags Of Financial Elder Abuse

Steps To Protect Older Loved Ones

Unscrupulous financial advisors and stockbrokers have access to customer accounts and may use that access to steal from clients, especially elderly clients who may not catch irregularities in their accounts.  This kind of theft can be devastating and may constitute federal securities law crimes and State crimes, and be the basis for a civil lawsuit for damages in elder abuse actions.  See Section 24 of the Securities Act of 1933, 15 U.S.C. § 77x (2006); Section 32(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, 15 U.S.C. § 78ff(a) (2006); Section 49 of the Investment Company Act of 1940, 15 U.S.C. § 80a-48 (2006); Section 217 of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, 15 U.S.C. § 80b-17 (2006); Cal. Penal Code § 368 (defining criminal elder abuse) and Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code § 15610.30(definition of financial elder abuse for civil actions). Evans Law Firm, Inc. represents seniors financially exploited by financial advisors and stockbrokers whether by sales of unsuitable investments including annuities, unauthorized trades, misrepresenting investments, failing to disclose important information, or plain theft of funds.  We pursue all available remedies for injured seniors including awards of attorneys’ fees and expenses for bringing your action.  Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code § 15657.5.   If you’re the victim of financial elder abuse here in San Francisco or elsewhere in California call us today at (415)441-8669. Our toll-free number is 1-888-50EVANS (888-503-8267).

Examples of Broker Financial Elder Abuse

Summarized below are three recent examples of enforcement actions by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) of elder financial abuse and the situations that can arise when stockbrokers take advantage of their most vulnerable clients.[1]

Excessive Trading:  In what appears to be a slap on the wrist, FINRA suspended a broker for 8 months for engaging in excessive short-term trading in several elderly client accounts, including a 95-year-old widow who lost $283,000 and a couple in their 70s who lost $239,000.  They were each charged more than $260,000 and $210,000, respectively, in commissions and markups.   

Control of Customer Accounts:  A stockbroker was permanently barred for her role in taking control over two elderly customer accounts and misappropriating funds. According to FINRA, the broker received $9,000 from a terminally ill client after inducing him to name her as the beneficiary of a “transfer-on-death” bank account.  The broker also received over $60,000 following the death of an elderly client that had named the broker as a joint owner on their bank account; and another $248,000 as a beneficiary of the customer’s estate. 

Theft & Embezzlement: FINRA barred a former stockbroker affiliated for reportedly stealing money from an elderly woman’s brokerage account.  The broker, who was arrested in May and charged with embezzlement and elder theft, plead guilty and was given a two-year suspended sentence.

Warning Signs And Steps To Protect Older Loved Ones

Five common warning signs of financial elder abuse by a broker or financial advisor are:

  1. Unexpected changes in wills, trusts or powers of attorney
  2. Sudden or unexplained check cashing, transfers or withdrawals
  3. Opening of a new brokerage account (or multiple accounts) or changing brokerage firms
  4. Unusual increase in investment activity or change in investment style
  5. Overly secretive or reluctance to discuss financial matters

Protect your older loved ones by:

  • Monitoring all financial account statements.
  • Never give a broker a signed, blank check.
  • Accompany older loved ones to all business meetings.
  • Look for unusual increases in trading or account transfers.
  • Be part of the relationship your loved one has with their bankers, attorneys and other professionals.

Before you invest any money with a stockbroker check their background and use free resources for finding questions you should ask. You can also learn more about a stockbroker or investment advisor you’re considering with FINRA’s  BrokerCheck tool, which is also free and available 24/7 online, or by phone at (800) 289-9999.

Contact Us

If you or someone you love is the victim of any type of financial elder abuse in San Francisco or elsewhere in California, call Ingrid M. Evans at Evans Law Firm, Inc. at (415) 441-8669, or by email at <a href=”mailto:info@evanslaw.com”>info@evanslaw.com</a>. Our toll-free number is 1-888-50EVANS (888-503-8267).

[1] Evans Law Firm, Inc. is not involved in any of the reported case examples in any way.

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