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FINRA: Rep Impersonated Clients to Obtain Account Info

Martin Ray Evans had approval from customers to transfer their accounts to his new firm, but he didn't have all the information he needed. So he impersonated them on the phone to get it, according to the regulatory agency, and was terminated.

A broker who switched firms and took some clients with him hit some roadblocks in transferring their accounts, and resorted to impersonating those clients on the phone with his old firm to get past the impasse, according to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

On Nov. 4, Martin Ray Evans signed a letter of admittance, waiver and consent to settle allegations he violated company policies requiring client authorization for the transactions and failed to disclose the facts to the client.

According to the letter, Evans was a broker with the firm from 2009 to 2019. Though that firm is unnamed, Evans worked at Ameriprise Financial Services during that time period, according to his BrokerCheck profile

He was terminated by that firm for other reasons in March 2019, but by May was registered with Western International Securities as a general securities representative. Western International Securities is a wholly owned subsidiary of Atria Wealth Solutions, though Atria acquired the firm after the events spelled out in the FINRA letter.

Evans had the consent of his Ameriprise customers to transfer their accounts, according to FINRA. But when he submitted transfer documents for some of them, the previous firm rejected the request. Evans had, the firm said, “submitted incorrect customer account information.”

So over the course of three months, Evans allegedly called Ameriprise’s customer service department on numerous occasions, impersonating 11 of his clients to get the proper information and successfully made the transfers, according to the FINRA letter.

But “Evans did not have the customers’ permission to make these phone calls or to impersonate them on these phone calls,” according to the regulator.

A request for comment from Evans’ counsel listed on the letter was not returned as of press time.

Evans’ alleged actions meant Ameriprise had unknowingly violated FINRA regulations prohibiting financial institutions from disclosing “nonpublic personal information” about a customer unless that customer received notice and an option to opt out of such disclosures. Any registered representative who causes a broker/dealer to disclose such information also violated FINRA rules, according to the regulatory agency. 

On July 11, 2019, Ameriprise filed an amended Form U5 pertaining to Evans stating it had conducted a review and found Evans was the voice on the other end of the phone, not the clients, according to FINRA. Several days later, Western International Securities disclosed it had terminated Evans’ registration because of the findings.

The sanctions against Evans include a $5,000 fine and “a 45-calendar day suspension from associating with any FINRA member in any capacity.” Evans currently isn’t registered with any firm, according to BrokerCheck.

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