Notes In FINRA Test Center Earn Fine And Suspension

June 22, 2015

This ain't the first blog that I have published about someone cheating during a Wall Street qualifying examination, and I think it's safe to say that this won't be the last such article on that topic. Human nature being what it is, some folks are just gonna cheat. In some cases, however, the problem isn't that a test-taker is sneaking a peek at notes on a shirt cuff or underneath a shoe -- sometimes the misconduct is that you get caught simply having prohibited notes in your possession at the testing facility, even if you didn't look at them or even intend to do so.  Regardless of what you do or don't, and notwithstanding your intentions, make sure to know the rules of the test center and to follow them. Consider this recent regulatory settlement.

Case In Point

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, Christa L. McMullin submitted a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent ("AWC"), which FINRA accepted. In the Matter of Christa L. McMullin, Respondent (AWC  # 2013038588301, June 4, 2015).

According to online FINRA BrokerCheck records as of June 22, 2015, McMullin appears to have entered the industry in 1998 and was first registered in 2000. During the relevant times of March through August 2013, she was registered with FINRA member firm UBS Financial Services, Inc. The AWC asserts that she had no prior disciplinary history.

Taking the Series 66

The AWC asserts that on July 10,2013, McMullin took the Series 66: Uniform Combined State Law Examination, which is a "closed-book test" administered pursuant to the FINRA Test Center Rules of Conduct and before beginning the test, McMullin had agreed to be bound by those rules. 

SIDE BAR: According to an online FINRA document, the self-regulatory organization imposes the following test center regulations:

Prohibition Against Assistance, the Use of Study Materials or Misconduct
The purpose of this notice is to make sure you understand and acknowledge the FINRA Rules of Conduct. You are required to agree to the following rules before starting your examination or Continuing Education (CE) session.
Test center personnel are NOT authorized to grant exceptions to any of these rules.
Personal Items
For the duration of my examination or CE session, I will not use or attempt to use any personal items, such as:
Mobile Devices or Cameras
Cellular Phones
Handheld Computers
Any Communication or Recording Devices
Personal Notes
Study Materials

I will store all personal items in the locker provided by the test vendor prior to entering the test room. 
I acknowledge that if I bring a personal item into the test room, I will cooperate with the Test Center Staff in the inspection of the item(s). I further acknowledge that these items may not be returned to me.
I will not engage in any conduct that is disruptive, disrespectful or threatening. Further, I will not engage in any conduct that creates a disturbance or interferes with Test Center operations. 
Unscheduled Breaks
I understand and acknowledge that unscheduled breaks are permitted only for restroom use. If I take an unscheduled break during my session, I will not access my locker or leave the building, and I will not receive additional time to complete the examination or CE session. Repeated or lengthy departures from the test room for unscheduled breaks will be reported to FINRA for investigation. 
I will not receive or attempt to receive assistance related to examination or CE content from any person for the duration of my session. 
I will not provide or attempt to provide assistance related to examination or CE content to any other person for the duration of my session.
I acknowledge that examination and CE materials are the property of FINRA and/or the organization(s) that developed the materials. I will maintain the confidentiality of these materials, including the questions and my answers to the questions. 
I will not remove or attempt to remove, whether through physical means, a recording device or otherwise, any written, printed, electronic or recorded materials from the Test Center ("Test Center Material") other than the score report provided by the Test Center Staff. 
I will not electronically capture or attempt to capture any examination or CE content from my computer screen. 
I will not reproduce or attempt to reproduce examination or CE materials through memorization or any other means. This prohibition includes but is not limited to discussing, posting or disclosing such content via email, social media or other Internet presence, or otherwise. I understand that this disclosure prohibition applies before, during and after my session. 
I will not disclose or discuss with anyone, including training instructors, information about the items or answers in my examination or CE session.
Attestation/Candidate Agreement
I am the person I represent to be for this session.  
If I do not follow these rules or I am suspected of cheating or tampering with the score report, the incident will be reported to FINRA and will subject me to possible disciplinary action by FINRA, another self-regulatory organization, the Securities and Exchange Commission, or any other regulator (government or private) that has jurisdiction over my activities and could result in my being barred from employment/association within the financial services industry and forfeiture of my session results.
I understand I will be monitored at all times during the session to ensure that strict adherence to security measures is maintained by all persons. Monitoring may include audio and video recording.

The AWC alleges that while taking the exam, McMullin was found to possess notes and formulas relating to the subject matter of the examination in violation of FINRA Rule 2010.

Fine and Suspension

In accordance with the terms of the AWC, FINRA imposed upon McMullin a $5,000 fine and a two-year-suspension from associating with any FINRA member firm in any capacity.

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