FINRA Bars NPB Stockbroker For Fraudulent REIT Sales

Cynthia Diane Cowden (also known as Cynthia Case) of Lake Isabella California a stockbroker formerly registered with NPB Financial Group LLC has been barred from associating with any Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) member in any capacity based upon findings that Cowden made unsuitable investment recommendations to investors and failed to be forthcoming with FINRA during the time that she was under investigation for her actions at NPB Financial Group. Letter of Acceptance Waiver and Consent No. 2017055979301 (Oct. 21, 2020).

According to the AWC, Cowden provided bad investment recommendations to a retired couple who had a moderate risk tolerance and a net worth of $1,000,0000. The customers’ objectives included a balanced and stable portfolio with investments that could provide both liquidity and income. FINRA stated that the customers were relying on the investments purchased through Cowden to supplement their income streams.

Cowden advised those customers to invest in NorthStar Real Estate Income Trust which was not appropriate or suitable given the high-risk and illiquid nature of the investment. FINRA indicated that the customers’ account had been overconcentrated in NorthStar.

A third customer with a $400,000.00 net worth who had a low-to-moderate risk tolerance and liquidity needs decided to invest through Cowden. That customer had been steered by Cowden towards investing in Priority Income Fund Inc. FINRA stated that Priority was not appropriate for the customer given its composition as a risky and illiquid mutual fund. More than half of the customer’s net worth had been invested in this investment. Cowden’s unsuitable investment recommendations were violative of FINRA Rules 2010 and 2111.

FINRA also noted that when Cowden provided recorded testimony during an investigation, she largely overstated to FINRA the amount of assets and income owned by the customers. The stockbroker made it appear that the customers were qualified to be invested in speculative investments. FINRA determined that Cowden’s failure to be forthcoming constituted the violation of FINRA Rules 2010 and 8210.

Cowden has been identified in three customer initiated investment related disputes containing accusations of her bad sales practices while she was employed by NPB Financial Group and Next Financial Group. FINRA Public Disclosure reveals that a civil action involving Cowden’s conduct was resolved for $80,000.00 in damages supported by allegations of elder abuse and fraud relating to mutual fund transactions. According to the claim, a fiduciary duty that was owed to the customer had been breached. The stockbroker’s negligence allegedly caused the customer’s losses. The claim also alleges that the customer’s funds were misused.

Another customer initiated investment related arbitration claim concerning Cowden’s activities was resolved for $163,500.00 in damages founded on accusations of breach of contract and bad investment advice by Cowden at Next Financial Group. According to the claim, misrepresentations had been made by the stockbroker relating to TIC transactions.

Cowden has been referenced in a customer initiated investment related arbitration claim which settled for $57,000.00 in damages based upon allegations of financial elder abuse and breach of contract as it related to the NPB customer’s investments in real estate security. FINRA Arbitration No. 20-00219 (July 29, 2020). According to the claim, a fiduciary duty had been breached and the stockbroker’s transactions were not supervised by NPB Financial. Misrepresentations and omissions had allegedly been made by the stockbroker. The claim also alleges that the customer had been defrauded.

Cowden was registered with NPB Financial Group between January 3, 2013 and August 31, 2020.