Finra: Broker Tried Fleecing Elderly Clients Out of $70K
Finra is alleging that a broker attempted to collect more than $70,000 in bogus estate and financial planning fees from a couple in their 90s, the regulator says in a press release.
Stanley Clayton Niekras allegedly tried to bill the couple, who had declining physical and mental health, without having a financial planning or investment advice agreement with them, Finra says.
When the clients gifted around $500,000 in cash and securities to their three children in late 2012, Niekras allegedly recommended that the children buy variable annuities with the gifts, telling them they wouldn’t incur any commissions on the purchase, even though he was anticipating to make $75,000 in commissions from the sale, Finra alleges.
In March 2013, the regulator says Niekras had a tax lien issued against him by the Internal Revenue Service. He then allegedly said the lien would be settled from anticipated commissions when questioned by MML Investor Services, with which Niekras was registered from 2005 through January 2014, Finra says. But when the clients’ children refused to buy the variable annuities, Niekras allegedly presented a $69,330 bill to one of the elderly clients for estate planning and record-keeping services, which he said amounted to hundreds of hours he worked from 2010 to 2013. He later allegedly presented a bill for $72,636 on MML letterhead, although the company was never notified of the bill, according to Finra.
Niekras admits that the fee was supposed to replace the commissions he hoped to receive from selling the variable annuities to the clients’ children, Finra says.
Niekras’ BrokerCheck profile includes seven customer disputes dating back to 2002, four of which were settled and three denied. Three of the disputes involved sales of unsuitable variable annuities.