Ethics Center: Sales & Marketing

Rogue Advisors on Parade: Romance, Twisting, and Ponzi in the Sun

Six women looking for love instead got their heartstrings entangled with a rogue Connecticut advisor. According to the Securities and Exchange Commission, Thomas J. Connerton pocketed the women’s money, along with that of 14 of their friends and relatives and 35 other consumers. Connerton convinced them to invest in a non-registered company that he claimed was on the verge of bringing a better medical glove to market. He claimed investing in the firm would produce a 3,600 percent return. However, instead of investing the money as promised, Connerton kept the cash, using it for personal expenses, including a $20,000 engagement ring for one of the women he met online. The SEC ordered Connerton to pay $1.8 million in penalties to the victims. The women’s search for love continues.

A Florida securities broker twisted his way to approximately $60,000 in variable annuity commissions. Instead of enjoying his big payday, he received a FINRA disciplinary complaint. According to FINRA, former broker Walter Marino convinced two clients to replace their existing variable annuities, even though the transactions had no reasonable basis and generated some $82,000 in surrender charges. While he snared sizable commissions, his clients suffered financial harm because he failed to execute an IRS Section 1035 exchange, which would have allowed the money to be moved without tax consequences. FINRA ordered Marino to disgorge all ill-gotten gains and to make full client restitution.

A California Ponzi schemer’s bubble burst when he was arrested and charged with 19 counts of securities fraud and one count of first-degree burlary. According to the Riverside County District Attorney, former insurance agent Pradeep Singh of Riverside promised consumers a 10 percent to 12 percent return if they invested in his venture. Instead, he used their money for personal expenses and to pay interest to earlier investors in a classic Ponzi scheme. In all, Singh scammed a total of 14 people.

Takeaway from the National Ethics Association? Crime doesn’t pay! So don’t even think about it.

For information on ethical sales practices, please visit the National Ethics Association’s Ethics Center. For information on affordable E&O insurance for low-risk insurance agents, investment advisors, and real estate broker/owners, please visit