In a Securities and Exchange Commission default judgment, Dawn J. Bennett was barred from the financial services industry and fined $4 Million. Bennett, claiming that the SEC administrative proceeding was an improper venue, decided not to attend the proceedings. The court found that Bennett had misled customers by claiming her firm, Bennett Group Financial Services LLC, managed assets in excess of $1.5 Billion. Based on the SEC investigation, the total assets under management by Bennett and her company averaged only $400 Million. Further, Bennett repeatedly stated that the investment returns on her customer accounts were in the top 1% in the country. However the investment returns cited were from a model portfolio of Bennett Group Financial Services LLC and not indicative of actual client accounts.
Bennett used this false information to attract customers, as she reported the inflated numbers to Barron’s which ranks financial services companies by assets under management. She also hosted a weekly radio show called “Financial Myth busting with Dawn Bennett” where she frequently noted the financial success of her firm as a marketing ploy. The court also found that certain investors relied on this false information in choosing Bennett Group Financial Services LLC to manage their money.
According to her Finra Broker Check Report, Bennett also was a broker for Western International Securities Inc. and was the subject of two Finra arbitration proceedings. In arbitration proceeding 13-00612, the panel awarded the claimants $100,000 in compensatory damages and various arbitration related fees. The claimants asserted the following causes of action: churning; misrepresentation; omission of facts; actual fraud; breach of fiduciary duty; constructive fraud; breach of contract; negligence; unsuitability; failure to supervise; and a violation of the Virginia Securities Act. In arbitration proceeding 13-00467, the panel awarded the claimants $150,000 in compensatory damages, $50,000 in attorneys fees pursuant to the Maryland Securities Act, and various other arbitration related fees. Claimants asserted the following causes of action: 1) breach of contract; 2) negligence; 3) failure to supervise; 4) breach of fiduciary duty; 5) churning; 6) unauthorized trading; 7) misrepresentations and omissions and 8) unsuitability. The causes of action relate to, among other things, the purchases of precious metal Exchange-Traded Funds (“ETFs”) and a Swiss Franc ETF plus the short selling of U S. Treasury STRIPS in Claimants’ accounts.
Further the Broker Check Report shows 5 more customer complaints which are still pending with various causes of action to include misrepresentation and unsuitability.
Fishman Haygood represents investors who have suffered investment losses in claims against their brokers or financial advisors. Our experienced attorneys have brought securities fraud cases in state and federal courts across the nation, as well as in FINRA arbitration. We work to help investors recoup their losses.
Of course, all cases are different. For that reason, we analyze each client’s matter individually and provide our personalized evaluation only after considering all of the facts and circumstances of all possible claims. If you or someone you know is the victim of securities fraud, please contact a Fishman Haygood lawyer today.