Anonymous Tip to FINRA's Securities Helpline for Seniors Gets Stockbroker Barred

July 31, 2019

It started with an anonymous tip to FINRA's Securities Helpline for Seniors. It progressed to a FINRA on-the-record interview. It ended with a Bar. All of which demonstrates how whistleblowers and tipsters can make Wall Street regulation more effective. 

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, Fortino R. Rivera submitted a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent ("AWC"), which FINRA accepted. In the Matter of Fortino R. Rivera, Respondent (FINRA AWC 2018059735201)

The AWC asserts that Rivera entered the industry in 2014 and by September 2016, he was registered with FINRA member firm Centaurus Financial, Inc.. The AWC asserts that "Rivera does not have any prior disciplinary history."

2018 Anonymous Tip to FINRA

The AWC alleges that in 2018, FINRA's Securities Helpline for Seniors received an anonymous tip about a joint account purportedly held in Rivera's and a senior citizen's name. The tip alleged that said account was being maintained away from Centaurus Financial at another member firm. In response the the allegations, FINRA initiated an investigation.

April 2019 Termination

The AWC asserts that on April 25, 2019. Centaurus filed a Uniform Termination Notice for Securities Industry Registration for Rivera that terminated his association with the firm as of April 24, 2019. 

May 2019 OTR

In furtherance of its investigation, FINRA conducted an on-the-record interview (an "OTR") of Rivera pursuant to FINRA Rule 8210. During the May 23, 2019, OTR, the AWC asserts that:

[R]ivera repeatedly testified that he was not aware of any joint account with Customer A, speculating that Customer A may have opened a joint account with Rivera's information without his knowledge. This testimony was false. Rivera opened the joint account with Customer A and accessed the account online numerous times per month since the account was opened.  

FINRA Sanction

In accordance with the terms of the AWC, FINRA imposed upon Rivera a Bar from associating with any FINRA member firm in any capacity.

Bill Singer's Comment

The more you consider the facts, the more appropriate FINRA's Bar looms. The underlying misconduct pertaining to opening an Away Account with an elderly customer always raises concerns -- sometimes there is a reasonable explanation but, more often than not, the subterfuge speaks for itself. In Rivera's case,however, we don't just have the Away Account but we also have his false testimony under oath during FINRA's OTR. All of which implies that FINRA did the industry and the investing public by tossing this guy to the curb.

As disclosed on FINRA's webpage: "FINRA Securities Helpline for Seniors, the self-regulatory-organization maintains the Toll Free number: 844-57-HELPS (844-574-3577) during the hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m Eastern Time from Monday through Fridays. I would encourage all seniors, their caregivers, their family, and their friends to take advantage of this resource. The retirement savings you save may be yours -- or an unsuspecting victim of a pernicious predator. I would also urge everyone to watch FINRA's surprising well-produced video on the helpline's webpage. Frankly, I'd like to have embedded that video here but f
or reasons that I can't quite understand, FINRA does not provide a "share" device with an embed code for its online FINRA Securities Helpline video, which is an interesting case-study and a useful tool explaining what FINRA can do for beleagured seniors. Regardless, Accordidngly, I have respected the convention when a site does not provide an embed code, and have not created my own embed link. The direct link to the page housing the video is