Aaron John Wernli – and the firm that employs him or her – is regulated by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).
If you are like most people, before you go out to dinner at a new restaurant, you probably take a quick look at the reviews. This makes sense; you are going to pay for an expensive dinner, and you need to be sure that you are getting a good value.
Yet, when choosing a financial advisor, many people fail to conduct this same level of due diligence. Before turning over access to your money, you need to be sure that you have found a financial advisor that you can trust. Here, our audit report, including details of allegations, complaints, and sanctions will help you decide whether or not to invest with Aaron John Wernli.
BrokerComplaints.com is currently investigating allegations related to Aaron John Wernli. We provide a free platform for investors to help them in their claims against negligent brokers and brokerage firms.
About Aaron Wernli
Aaron John Wernli is an Investment Adviser. Aaron John Wernli’s Central Registration Depository (CRD) number is 4344890 and the FINRA Profile can be found at – https://brokercheck.finra.org/individual/summary/4344890.
Click here to download a Detailed Audit Report for Aaron John Wernli.
Aaron John Wernli has previously been reprimanded and has disclosures and/or client dispute(s) listed at FINRA BrokerCheck.
Accusations and Disclosures
You can find below, a quick snapshot of Aaron John Wernli’s regulatory actions, arbitrations, and complaints.
DISCLOSURE 1 –
- Event Date: 9/26/2018
- Disclosure Type: Civil
- Disclosure Resolution: Final
- Disclosure Detail :: Initiated By: UNITED STATES SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
- Allegations: SEC Litigation Release No. 24289 / September 27, 2018 / and Complaint Case 2:18-cv-00761 filed September 26, 2018: The Securities and Exchange Commission charged four individuals including respondent Aaron Wernli and their associated entities with carrying out a long-running and complex fraud on investors in the Melrose Resort, a decrepit property located on Daufuskie Island, South Carolina. Beginning in January 2014, Defendants Bramlette, Hartman, Kozlowski, and Wernli made numerous misrepresentations to investors, omitted material information, and perpetrated a complex fraudulent scheme using the Melrose Resort. Bramlette, the ringleader of the fraud, arranged the purchase of the Melrose Resort out of bankruptcy in 2011 and managed the property through at least 2016. Beginning in January 2014, Defendants raised over $10.8 million from at least 60 investors, through the offer and sale of promissory notes, for the ostensible purpose of funding the Melrose Resort. Defendants materially misrepresented the financial condition of the Melrose Resort to investors, and failed to disclose material information, including a November 2013 foreclosure action by a lender owed more than $20 million secured by the properties making up the Melrose Resort; an April 2014 judgment in that foreclosure action in excess of $27 million; and a series of loans from another lender culminating in Bramlette and Hartman losing their ownership of the Melrose Resort, and of their companies The Pelorus Group, LLC (Pelorus), Private Placement Capital Notes II, LLC (PPCN), and Stone Mountain Equities, LLC (SME), in May 2015. In addition to their misrepresentations and omissions, Defendants engaged in a fraudulent scheme designed to cover up their conduct. Bramlette and Hartman negotiated a series of deals so that they could continue to market the Melrose Resort even after its foreclosure, and used their continued management of the Melrose Resort to deceive investors about the status of the project and their investments. As part of the scheme, Hartman and PPCN provided false account statements and investment updates to PPCN investors, and lulled investors into believing their investments were performing, even though PPCN had lost its interest in the Melrose Resort, its single largest asset. Defendants Hartman, PPCN, and SME made Ponzi-like interest payments to investors, which concealed that PPCN had no earnings and insufficient assets. Even after losing all interest in the Melrose Resort, Pelorus, PPCN, SME, and Entelecus Fund, LLC (Entelecus), Defendants continued to use the Melrose Resort to try to deceive investors and raise additional funds. Defendants Bramlette, Hartman, and Kozlowski profited from the scheme by, among other things, misappropriating investor funds to pay for their personal expenses. Aaron Wernli helped raise money for the project. According to the complaint, investors were promised returns of up to 24% and were encouraged to put their retirement savings in the resort. In reality, the resort was uninhabitable and was suffering significant losses each month. By this conduct, Defendant Wernli violated Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5, and Sections 17(a)(1) and 17(a)(3) of the Securities Act of 1933.
- Resolution: Judgment Rendered
- Sanction Details :: Sanctions: Civil and Administrative Penalty(ies)/Fine(s) Sanctions: Injunction
- Sanctions: permanently restrained; permanently restrained and enjoined from participating in the issuance, purchase, offer, or sale of any security in an unregistered offering provided, however, that such injunction shall not prevent Defendant from purchasing or selling securities listed on a national securities exchange for Defendant’s own personal account.
According to a study prepared for the FINRA Investor Education Foundation, 80 percent of American investors report that they have been solicited to participate in a fraud scheme, while 11 percent of American investors report that they personally lost money as a result of fraud.
FINRA notes that the rate of investment fraud is most likely much higher than it is reported. This is because many victims of financial advisor scams are too ashamed to come forward. Further, the study also found that a significant number of investors do not know how to spot common red flags of investment fraud. The least you should do is share your experience with other potential victims of investment scams.
Under federal securities law and securities industry regulations, registered investment firms have a legal duty to supervise their financial advisors. Section 15(b)(4)(E) of the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934 makes a securities firm liable for the conduct of representatives.
- ALLSTATE FINANCIAL SERVICES, LLC (CRD#: 18272) :: 1/18/2002 – 1/2/2004 :: LINCOLN, NE
- WMA SECURITIES, INC. (CRD#: 32625) :: 3/27/2001 – 1/18/2002 :: DULUTH, GA
The duty to supervise securities representatives is a strong legal requirement. Registered investment firms must take many different steps to ensure that they are protecting their customers from irresponsible and criminal financial advisors.
Legit or Not?
Unfortunately, stockbroker fraud is more common than many investors would like to think. And yes, stockbrokers (including Aaron John Wernli, but not limited to) can (and do) steal money from their clients. While it’s rare that a broker will literally steal his client’s money (though that does happen), typically the “theft” of investment funds comes in the form of other fraudulent violations of securities law and FINRA rules which leads to significant investment losses.
Investors generally understand that there are risks associated with buying and selling securities. The market can go up, and the market can go down. No matter how skilled of an investor you are, there are always risks. With that being said, sometimes investment losses cannot be blamed on simple back luck.
There are 10 major types of complaints we receive against Investment Brokers –
- Outright Theft (Conversion of Funds)
- Unauthorized Trading
- Misrepresentation or Omission of Material Facts
- Excessive Trading (Churning)
- Lack of Diversification
- Unsuitable Investment Recommendations
- Failure to Disclose a Personal Conflict of Interest
- Front Running of Transactions
- Breakpoint Sale Violations
- Negligent Portfolio Management
Do your due diligence before investing. Public records are available for everybody to review and decide on the safest bet.
How to Protect Yourself
We, as citizens, place a great deal of trust in the financial advisors who are tasked with helping us achieve and maintain financial security. Most of the time financial advisors and stockbrokers are honest folks who work diligently in their client’s best interests. However, on occasion financial advisors and the brokerage firms who employ them mess up and cause serious financial harm to their clients. Sometimes these losses are caused by simple negligence. Other times fraud or other serious misconduct is to blame.
Here are 5 signs that your broker needs to be reported –
- Breach of Fiduciary Duty: Under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, certain investment professionals, known as registered investment advisors (RIAs), owe fiduciary obligations to their customers. Your investment broker must always look out for your best interests. If you lost money because of your broker’s breach of fiduciary duty, you may be entitled to compensation for the full value of your damages.
- Unsuitable Investments: Many financial advisors are not fiduciaries. Instead, they are held to the suitability standard. These stockbrokers and financial advisors can only sell and recommend financial products that are appropriate for a customer’s unique investment profile. If you lost money in unsuitable investments, you should consider reporting them.
- Material Misrepresentations or Omissions: Brokers have a duty to make fair and honest representations to their clients. If they fail to do so, and an investor loses money due to a misrepresentation or a material omission, the broker may be liable for the investor’s losses.
- Lack of Diversification: Brokers must also act with the appropriate level of professional skill. Pushing a customer into over-concentrated investments is highly risky. Brokers can be held liable for losses sustained because of an investor’s inappropriate lack of diversification.
- Excessive Trading (Churning): Stockbrokers and financial advisors must have a well-grounded, reasonable basis to execute all trades. Unfortunately, there are cases in which brokers will frequently trade on a customer’s account, simply to increase their own fees. This unlawful practice is known as churning.
- Unauthorized Trading: Brokers must have the proper legal authority to make transactions on behalf of a client. If you lost money because your broker made trades that you never approved of, you may have been the victim of unauthorized trading. You should consult with an experienced attorney.
Report Aaron Wernli
In order to prevail in an investment fraud lawsuit or FINRA arbitration cases, you must be able to assert a viable ‘cause of action’.
Aaron John Wernli – and the firm that employs this broker – is regulated by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). FINRA provides an online form to allow investors to file a formal complaint against their financial advisor, stockbroker, or brokerage firm.
Click here to go to FINRA’s Online Complaint Form →
This form will ask you for specific information related to your complaint. Be prepared by gathering the following:
- Name and symbol for the investment product in question.
- The CRD number (4344890) for the broker – Aaron John Wernli
- Your complete contact information.
Remember, it is advised to report your broker to FINRA, only after you have exhausted all of your other remedies and carefully prepared a compelling complaint. Once you file a complaint against your broker at FINRA, your case will be bound by FINRA’s rules and the arbitration panel’s eventual decision. The time clock will start, and your complaint will be served on your broker or broker-dealer.
The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the source BROKERCOMPLAINTS.COM and do not necessarily reflect the official position of ‘Complaints Bureau,’ which shall not be held liable for any inaccuracies presented. The information provided within this article is for general informational purposes only. While we try to keep the information up-to-date and correct, there are no representations or warranties, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability of the information in this article for any purpose.
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