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Former AXA Advisors Rep Indicted Over Alleged $475K Theft from Clients

May 31, 2018

A former financial advisor with AXA Advisors in Arizona is facing charges of stealing $475,000 from his clients’ retirement savings and using their money on leisure activities, according to azcentral.com.

Between 2013 and 2017, Howard Price III allegedly convinced three clients to transfer funds from the IRAs at AXA Advisors to his own firm, Howard Price Wealth Management, according to a statement from the Arizona Attorney General’s office cited by the news website. Price had worked at AXA advisors from 2007 to 2012, according to his BrokerCheck profile.

After receiving the funds, Price allegedly spent the money on "clubs, bars, and restaurants in Scottsdale and Arcadia," according to the indictment cited by azcentral.com. Price allegedly knew all three clients personally and at least one of them was a close friend, a spokesman for the attorney general’s office tells the web publication.

Moreover, Price’s license to offer advice and sell investments expired when he quit AXA Advisors, according to a cease-and-desist order issued in November against Price’s company by the Arizona Corporation Commission and cited by azcentral.com.

The commission further alleges Price promised guaranteed returns to the clients, the web publication writes. In addition, the commission alleges Price provided one client with fraudulent financial reports that claimed he had invested the money through LPL Financial, according to azcentral.com. Price is facing one count of fraudulent schemes and artifices and three counts of theft, with his arraignment hearing scheduled for Friday, the web publication writes. None of the victims could be reached for comment, according to azcentral.com, and AXA Advisors didn’t respond to the web publication’s request for comment.

Separately, Finra has barred a former Ameriprise advisor for making unauthorized trades and failing to provide requested documents, according to a letter of acceptance, waiver and consent posted on the industry’s self-regulator’s website.

From September 27-29, 2016, Maria Tamburro made around 30 mutual fund purchases in six client accounts without contacting them, according to Finra. One of the clients didn’t have enough funds to cover the purchases, so Tamburro sold securities in a separate brokerage account held by the same client, also without authorization, and transferred the proceeds to the account she was using for buying the mutual funds, the regulator says.

(Getty)

For two clients who only had fee-based accounts with her, Tamburro first opened new commission-based accounts without their authorization before making the unauthorized trades, according to Finra. In all, Tamburro charged the six clients $7,549 in commissions for the unauthorized trades, according to the consent letter.

Tamburro began her financial services career at Ameriprise in 2011 and was registered with the firm until October 2016, according to her BrokerCheck profile.

She never registered with another firm, according to BrokerCheck.

“These allegations occurred after this individual voluntarily terminated his affiliation with AXA Advisors in July 2012," a company spokeswoman for AXA said in an emailed statement. "AXA Advisors has zero tolerance for such conduct and the security of our clients’ accounts is our top priority. We are cooperating fully with local authorities.”

Editor's Note: This article has been updated to include a statement from AXA Advisors.

By Alex PadalkaAlex Padalka
  • To read the azcentral.com article cited in this story, click here.