In my law practice, I've noticed an increase during the past several months in the number of calls seeking my help on behalf of defrauded senior citizens. Typically, the caller is a family member: son, daughter, niece, or nephew. They often tell the story of some charming stockbroker who visits their grandmother or grandfather and brings them muffins, changes light bulbs, and picks up the monthly brokerage statements that the client was told to hold -- unopened -- for the broker (who then takes them home for review). Although the senior citizen victim believes that all is fine, the worried family member soon discovers missing dollars, missing securities, and an unavailable or evasive stockbroker. By the time things get sorted out, it is often too late. And through it all, the elderly victim insists that the broker is a sweetheart, a lovely young girl or boy:
In a case only just-reported in December 2009, we learn of a registered person,Vincent John Miller (FINRA AWC/2008012562901/December 2009) , who made a recommendation to an elderly customer that the
customer invest in shares of a real estate investment trust (REIT). The
customer withdrew funds from existing investments and gave Miller over $1
million to purchase REIT shares. However,
In another recent settlement, William Alson Johnson (FINRA AWC/2007010251302/November 2009), opened a joint account for an elderly customer and Johnson's acquaintance. This joint account was funded entirely by the elderly customer's assets. Johnson's acquaintance, who served as the customer's caretaker, withdrew over $14 million from the joint account. Johnson made false statements while under oath during his on-the-record (OTR) testimony about his awareness of expensive gifts the caretaker had given to his sales assistant, and attempted to convince his sales assistant to make false statements during her testimony. Johnson was barred pursuant to a settlement agreement.