Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin has charged a former insurance agent and registered rep for allegedly selling fraudulent annuity contracts to several investors in the state, totaling more than $160,000.
Michael L. Piaseczny was holding himself out as a financial advisor with Prudential Financial, according to Galvin’s complaint, even though his insurance license had been revoked in 2016 and he was no longer registered with a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) member firm, according to BrokerCheck.
According to the complaint, Piaseczny advised a 54-year-old investor to liquidate her 401(k) in order to purchase a variable annuity. He allegedly put the funds in his own checking account and drew up a false contract, going as far as to use the contract number from a former client who had died.
“This is the type of fraud case that we see all too often. Scammers will prey upon those who have limited investment experience,” Galvin said. “I urge anyone who is new to investing to contact my Securities Division before they hand over their hard-earned money.”
Piaseczny also gave that investor quarterly statements that seemed to be from Prudential and its subsidiary Pruco Life Insurance Company; according to the complaint, these documents were also fraudulent. Any attempt the investor made to reach Piaseczny led only to a prerecorded message, the complaint stated. According to the complaint, the investor eventually wanted to divest, and he responded by stalling for months, claiming she’d receive her money soon. The investor eventually filed for bankruptcy; to date, she hasn’t received any of her money.
The Massachusetts Division of Insurance permanently revoked Piaseczny’s license after complaints concerning fraud, forgery and untrustworthiness. Yet, he continued to run his book of business, creating a “fly-by-night business known as MLP Financial Services,” according to the complaint.
Piaseczny also faces criminal charges of grand larceny in Franklin County Superior Court. In all, the Securities Division knows of at least three investors who gave funds to Piaseczny in a time span stretching from 2015 to 2018, according to the complaint. The division wants him to make restitution to the affected clients and pay a fine.
In recent months, Galvin’s office has fined Wells Fargo for $450,000 after numerous agents for the company failed to register with the state as required; Galvin also fined LPL Financial $1.1 million for a similar offense in June. Galvin also announced he was seeking public comments for a state fiduciary standard in July, arguing that the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Regulation Best Interest had failed to adequately protect investors from financial advisors’ potential conflicts of interest.