by Brian Mahany
Most of our stockbroker fraud stories involve investment advisers failing to perform due diligence, stockbrokers making unsuitable recommendations, churning of accounts or failures to disclose conflicts of interest. Not this story. This week the SEC says Anthony Fields, along with his two “companies” Anthony Fields & Associates and Platinum Securities Brokers, simply decided to call himself an investment advisor and stockbroker. He is neither.
The government says Fields created a LinkedIn account and began hawking supposed bank guaranteed securities through the social media site. He apparently got away with this for more than a year before getting caught.
Broker dealers and investment advisers are highly regulated. They are subject to rigorous testing and minimum capital requirements designed to protect the public. By simply calling himself a stockbroker (not just any stockbroker but a representative of a “leading institutional broker-dealer” according the feds), Fields was able to circumvent all these safety protections.
We know there are bad brokers out there but at least they are licensed and regulated. That makes it easier to recover one’s money in the event of a lawsuit or securities arbitration. What Fields did is akin to someone renting an office and simply hanging a sign indicating they are a bank and accepting people’s deposits. No FDIC coverage and in the case of Fields, no SIPC coverage.
For some reason, Fields hasn’t been criminally charged. Instead the SEC is simply seeking a cease and desist order. If the allegations in the complaint are true, we hope criminal charges will follow.
Obviously, if solicited through LinkedIn, social media or the Internet in general, always make sure you know who you are doing business with. A simple check of the SEC’s free on line records check for registered investment advisers or the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) Broker Check system would immediately tell folks that Fields is a fraud. If someone is registered as an investment adviser or broker, they shouldn’t be calling themselves a broker or selling securities. Unfortunately, most people never check.
By being unlicensed, Fields probably has no insurance and does not maintain minimum capital requirements like real brokers to cover losses. If the allegations are true, Field’s customers may find no way to recover any losses.
Before you invest, spend a few minutes understanding the product and company you are investing in AND get some background on your broker. If you still find yourself on the losing end of an investment gone wrong, give us a call. We have helped many people get back their hard earned money.
Mahany & Ertl – America’s Fraud Lawyers. Offices in Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Detroit & Portland. Services available in most locations.