One advisor stole from clients who cleaned homes for a living. Another embezzled from a nonprofit. A third siphoned money out of client accounts via ATM transactions.
That's according to FINRA, which has permanently barred all three former advisors from the industry for allegedly stealing nearly identical sums from clients through, or while, working for large firms in different parts of the country. The regulator announced the cases in its monthly report of disciplinary actions.
None of the accused former advisors could be reached for comment.
Between August 2011 and June 2013, Primerica Financial Services advisor Nahuel Rodriguez allegedly told three clients and one outside investor he would invest their money. Instead he took $26,144 from them for himself. Three of the clients were self-employed housekeepers.
"Rodriguez convinced one of the customers to liquidate her IRA by falsely telling her that he would transfer the money to a new account that would produce greater returns," according to the FINRA case. "Rodriguez also impersonated one of the customers when he directed his firm to liquidate the customer’s joint account at the firm. Once the firm transferred the funds, he told the joint account customers that the firm mistakenly had wired money from his account into theirs. Through this misrepresentation Rodriguez was able to get the customers to turn the money over to him."
Primerica returned $14,844 of the nearly $20,000 Rodriguez took from two of the married housekeepers. A spokesman for the firm did not immediately return a message inquiring as to why it did not recoup the housekeepers' full loss.
The firm repaid the entire sum lost by another client, $1,300.
A fourth victim, an outside investor, gave Rodriguez $5,000, thinking he or she was opening a client with Primerica after signing a falsified "new account form," according to FINRA. In that case, Rodriguez repaid the client $800 and Primerica returned the $4,200 balance.
ALLEGED NONPROFIT EMBEZZLEMENT
A contract broker with Transamerica Financial Advisors, Lori Hermanson, worked as a treasurer for a nonprofit, from which she took about $26,000 for her personal expenses between January 2012 and November 2015, the regulator says. Hermanson, based in Denver, wrote $20,000 in checks and took $6,000 in cash withdrawals from the nonprofit's checking account, according to BrokerCheck. The nonprofit filed a police report about the missing funds.
Transamerica "did not approve or have any connection to Ms. Hermanson’s outside business activity, nor does it appear that any of TFA’s customers were impacted by her actions," a Transamerica spokesman said, adding that the firm terminated its relationship with Hermanson.
THEFT ALLEGED VIA ATM
JPMorgan Chase bank employee William Roldan, based in Clifton, N.J., stole $26,000 from clients via ATM withdrawals between July and November of last year, the regulator says.
A spokesman for the firm said the bank immediately notified authorities after discovering Roldan's theft. "The employee was fired and we will continue to ensure that any impacted customers are reimbursed," the spokesman said.
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