The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has charged Phillip Conley, a West Virginia-based former registered representative with Merrill Lynch, with conducting fraudulent securities offerings where he defrauded $5.2 million from 20 or more investors.
The SEC claims that involving January 2014 and September 2018, Conley convinced investors, including pastors and church congregants, to invest their money with one or more of the entities he controlled while knowing the investments were not legitimate.
Conley supposedly induced investors to purchase Securities, such as purported limited partnership interests, in many different ventures, such as the construction of university student housing, high-yield fixed-income securities, oil and gas infrastructure and technologies, mineral rights leasing, and timber management, among other matters.
He allegedly used most of the funds for his personal benefit, Including private jet rentals, luxury purchases, dining, and entertainment, while using the remainder to make Ponzi-like payments to earlier investors. The SEC also noted that Conley supplied some of his investors with false quarterly account statements, “knowing that the balances and profits reported on the statements were completely false.”
Conley was connected with Merrill Lynch from 2012 until 2014, and also Wells Fargo for two years previously.
According To his BrokerCheck profile, he was suspended by FINRA in December 2015 for failing to comply with an arbitration award where he was responsible to pay Merrill Lynch $699,800 in compensatory damages. Conley’s former employer declared that when he began his job, he received a loan by executing a promissory note and refused to repay it after he resigned in May 2014.
The SEC’s complaint charges Conley with violations of the antifraud provisions of various federal securities laws. It seeks a permanent injunction, disgorgement of Ill-gotten profits, prejudgment interest, and civil monetary penalties.
Most financial advisors are legitimate. Unfortunately, there are a few bad apples. Investors can use FINRA’s broker check system to see the background of their financial advisor.
In addition, investors can contact an investment fraud law firm to get a free portfolio review of their account. The investment lawyers will be able to see if the investments are legitimate.