Sales Assistant Gone Wild

Advisors might think twice about taking a Friday off and leaving your book in the hands of your “capable” sales assistant (or client associate—whatever firms call trusted SAs these days).

Advisors might think twice about taking a Friday off and leaving your book in the hands of your “capable” sales assistant (or client associate—whatever firms call trusted SAs these days).

Yesterday the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) barred a Citigroup sales assistant for taking more than $850,000 from at least 22 customers, including her own father, in addition to falsifying records, and making unauthorized trades.

Over an eight-year period ending in March 2008, a sales assistant at Citigroup Global Markets in the firm’s Palo Alto, CA, branch office, Tamara Lanz Moon, of Redwood City, Calif., targeted elderly, ill or otherwise vulnerable customers whom she believed were unable to monitor their accounts, says FINRA.

In one case, Moon misappropriated approximately $26,000 belonging to an 83-year-old widow from the widow’s Citigroup account to accounts owned by Moon and to other Citigroup accounts to replace funds she had previously stolen. In another instance, Moon misappropriated approximately $55,000 in the custodial accounts of an American diplomat working overseas, and forged his signature on authorizations to change his address so account statements wouldn’t reach him. Moon also misappropriated $30,000 belonging to her own father, along with approximately $250,000 belonging to other Citigroup customers, in a phony account she created in her father’s name. Now that’s low.

Moon used the money from unauthorized trades and transfers for her personal expenses, remodel her home and make personal investments in other real estate properties, says FINRA. Citigroup has compensated customers for losses resulting from Moon's misconduct.

Every October Rep. toasts to a handful of “Outstanding Sales Assistants,” and over the years we’ve noticed SAs look more and more like FAs in their sophistication and responsibility. Ironically, in last year’s sales assistant story, “Compliance Monkey” we wrote how sales assistants are spending more time on compliance.

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