Securities America Sued By Investors For Fraud
Giustino DeStefano (also known as Justin DeStefano) of Williamsville New York a stockbroker formerly registered with Securities America Inc. is the subject of a customer initiated investment related arbitration claim where the customer sought $1,000,000.00 in damages supported by allegations of (1) violation of FINRA Rules and federal securities laws (2) overconcentration of the customer’s assets (3) unauthorized trades placed in the customer’s account (4) misrepresentations made to the customer concerning speculative products including real estate securities and direct investments (5) and the customer being defrauded in reference to a deceptive investment strategy that had been implemented for the customer’s assets during the time DeStefano was employed by Merrill Lynch Pierce Fenner Smith Inc. and Securities America Inc. Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Arbitration No. 19-01311 (May 17, 2019).
FINRA Public Disclosure reveals that DeStefano has been identified in seven additional customer initiated investment related disputes containing accusations of DeStefano’s misconduct while employed with Merrill Lynch and Securities America Inc. In particular, a customer initiated investment related arbitration claim involving DeStefano’s conduct was settled for $35,000.00 in damages founded on allegations that unauthorized and excessive trades were effected in the customer’s investment account; false or misleading statements had been made to the customer concerning the terms and conditions or risks of equities held in the customer’s account; and the customer was poorly advised in regards to the investments held in the customer’s brokerage account, causing the customer to sustain losses. FINRA Arbitration No. 15-01191 (Nov. 16, 2016).
On October 27, 2017, a customer initiated investment related complaint regarding DeStefano’s activities was resolved for $35,000.00 in damages based upon accusations that over-the-counter equities trades had been executed in the customer’s investment account in excessive amounts during the time DeStefano was employed with Merrill Lynch. Additionally, on December 13, 2017 a customer initiated investment related complaint involving DeStefano’s conduct was settled for $13,998.76 in damages supported by allegations of suitability and unauthorized trading of equities in the customer’s investment portfolio between August of 2014 and March of 2015, during which time DeStefano was associated with Securities America Inc.
Subsequently, a customer filed an investment related arbitration claim concerning DeStefano’s activities in which the customer requested damages estimated to exceed $5,000.00 founded on accusations including elder abuse; violation of the California Securities Act; breach of fiduciary duty; breach of contract; and fraud relating to the aggressive and unsuitable over-the-counter equities trades executed in the customer’s account while DeStefano was registered with Merrill Lynch. FINRA Arbitration No. 18-04148 (Dec. 6, 2018).
Further, a customer initiated investment related arbitration claim regarding DeStefano’s activities was resolved for $525,000.00 in damages based upon allegations that fiduciary duties owed to the customer had been breached; the customer’s account had been handled in a negligent manner; transactions were unsuitable for the customer; the customer’s investment account had been overconcentrated in speculative and inappropriate equities positions; and DeStefano exercised discretion in the customer’s brokerage account without obtaining the customer’s authorization. FINRA Arbitration No. 17-02334 (Feb. 8, 2019).
The majority of the customer initiated investment related disputes involving DeStefano’s violative conduct come after DeStefano was sanctioned by FINRA. In fact, DeStefano has been fined $10,000.00 and suspended for six months from associating with any FINRA member in any capacity founded on findings that while employed by Merrill Lynch, DeStefano placed trades in customer accounts without authorization; and mismarked customer order tickets. Letter of Acceptance Waiver and Consent No. 2014041504101 (Mar. 9, 2016). DeStefano’s conduct was found by FINRA to be violative National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD) Rule 2510 and FINRA Rules 2010 and 4511.