Broker Charged With The Old Cut And Paste Signature Shortcut

February 7, 2013

English: A pair of large, Fiskars-brand scissors.

For the purpose of proposing a settlement of rule violations alleged by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority ("FINRA"), without admitting or denying the findings, prior to a regulatory hearing, and without an adjudication of any issue, Arthur Apostol submitted a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent ("AWC"), which FINRA accepted. In the Matter of Arthur Apostol, Respondent (AWC 2012032570701, February 5, 2013).

Apostol first became registered in 1992 and during the relevant time from May 31, 2011 through May 11, 2012, he was registered with LPL Financial LLC. The AWC asserts that Apostol had no prior FINRA disciplinary history.

At various times from September 2011 through April 2012, while Apostol was in the process of transferring his customers' accounts from his former member firm to LPL, the AWC alleges that he submitted new account forms on which he had affixed at least four customers' signatures by cutting and pasting their signatures from previously executed documents. Although the customers had authorized the opening of the LPL accounts, they did not authorize or consent to Apostol's affixing of their signatures. Further,on at least four occasions, the AWC alleges that Apostol had asked customers to sign blank forms for future use.

FINRA alleged that the unauthorized affixation of signatures and the utilization of executed blank forms constituted violations of FINRA Rule 2010. In accordance with the terms of the AWC, FINRA imposed upon Apostol a $5,000 fine and a three-month suspension from association with any FINRA member in any capacity.

Bill Singer's Comment

Not to be too snarky about this but, you know, it is, after all, 2013, and, how should I delicately put this, you can scan signatures and then insert them into a document so that it's almost but not completely undetectable, especially if, you know, you transmit a fax or copy of that fabricated form.

I mean, really?  Cut and paste? In this digital age?

An invitation to my "Street Sweeper" readers: Recently, I hosted three episodes of "Side Bar With Bill Singer," where I interviewed industry figures about whistleblowing, international securities regulation, and high-frequency trading. We'll be posting those shows online during the next couple of weeks and I invite you to watch them.  Bill Singer.