NJ financial advisor preyed on victims to make over $1 million
A Rumson financial advisor with a history of violations has been slapped with a $750,000 fine and had his registration taken away for steering his clients toward riskier trades that put more money in his own pocket, authorities said Wednesday.
Gabriel Block carried out an unsuitable, high-cost trading strategy that netted at least $1.6 million in commissions and fees for himself and his associated broker-dealers at the expense of his clients, state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said Wednesday.
From at least December 2008 to March 2015, Block maximized commissions for himself, without regard to its suitability for his customers. His high-risk investment strategy preyed on inexperienced investors that included a 36-year-old quadriplegic construction-accident victim whose legal settlement funds were intended for his medical care and living expenses.
Another client was a 43-year-old, unemployed widow and mother of three who had received money in a legal settlement from a medical malpractice claim from her husband’s death.
Block also was reckless with the accounts of a 75-year-old retired widow who had funded her accounts with her and her deceased husband’s retirement savings.
He made money by recommending trading in commission-based accounts, in which the more the customers traded, the more commissions and other fees Block and the firms would make, regardless of whether the trading was in the customer’s best interest.
Block was generally paid 50% or more of commissions and other fees he brought in, he personally received at least $800,000 of the $1.6 million generated by the unsuitable and excessive trades he made at the expense of clients.
“Financial advisors should be advancing their clients’ best interests, not their own,” Grewal said. “That’s why we recently proposed new regulations to address this problem. But in the meantime, we will continue our aggressive enforcement of existing rules to ensure that New Jersey investors are protected to the fullest extent of the law.”
Block’s career in the securities industry involved ten different broker-dealers from 1990 through March 2018, when he was barred for a range of violations, including excess trading.
Block already has settled several customer disputes dating back to 2011, for a total of well over $1,000,000, with two cases still pending.
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