Ameritas Broker Charged With Unauthorized Trading

Thomas Lawrence, of Chapel Hill, Tennessee, a stockbroker formerly registered with Ameritas Investment Corp., has been charged by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) in a Complaint alleging that he borrowed funds from a customer in violation of the firm’s policies. Department of Enforcement v. Thomas Lawrence, No. 2016051945101 (July 27, 2017).

According to the Complaint, on November 30, 2013, a ninety-six-year-old investor had been solicited in by Lawrence and his spouse for a $39,364.43 loan to address tax liabilities. Apparently, the loan’s terms and conditions were stated within a promissory note that Lawrence was involved in creating, where Lawrence was required to pay the customer a total of $49,364.43 with the addition of five percent interest to reflect the $39,364.43 loan as well as a second $10,000.00 loan for Lawrence’s spouse.

Pursuant to the arrangement, the customer reportedly paid Lawrence’s tax liabilities. However, Lawrence never provided the customer with any repayment of funds. The Complaint alleged that the customer was not even contacted about any repayment. Further, the firm’s policies apparently disallowed registered representatives from borrowing customer funds and had not ever authorized the loan arrangement that Lawrence and the customer engaged in. FINRA alleged that Lawrence confirmed with Lawrence on five occasions that he understood the firm’s policies in this regard. The Complaint ultimately alleged that Lawrence’s conduct was violative of FINRA Rules 2010 and 3240.

FINRA Public Disclosure reveals that on November 21, 2016, a customer filed an investment related arbitration claim involving Lawrence’s conduct, in which the customer requested $499,364.00 in damages based upon allegations including negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, failure to supervise, borrowing from the customer, unsuitable investment recommendations, and fraudulent representations in regard to direct investment products effected in the customer’s account.

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