Erez Law is currently investigating former Whitehall-Parker Securities, Inc. and Independent Financial Group, LLC broker James Lamont (CRD# 2846228) regarding recommending unsuitable Woodbridge Group of Companies investments. Lamont was registered with Whitehall-Parker Securities, Inc. in San Francisco, California from 2015 to 2019 and previously with Independent Financial Group, LLC in Novato, California from 2006 to 2015.
The Woodbridge Group of Companies was a southern California luxury real estate developer. It is alleged that unregistered brokers sold unregistered securities in the purchase and sale of securities. The company missed payments on notes sold to investors and filed chapter 11 bankruptcy in December 2017, along with 281 subsidiaries and affiliates, citing “unforeseen costs associated with ongoing litigation and regulatory compliance.” It is alleged that investors were promised as high as 10% commissions on investments in the Woodbridge Group of Companies. According to the statement, at least 2,600 of these investor victims invested their retirement savings, totaling approximately $400 million.
In March 2020, FINRA revoked the registration of Lamont after he failed to pay fines and/or costs of $99,437.64.
In November 2019, FINRA sanctioned Lamont to pay a $10,000 civil and administrative penalty and fine and $81,417 in disgorgement and was suspended from the securities industry for 18 months after he “consented to the sanctions and to the entry of findings that he engaged in private securities transactions without prior approval from his member firm. The findings stated that Lamont solicited investors to purchase promissory notes relating to a purported real-estate investment fund. Lamont sold $1,467,000 in the notes to investors, three of whom were also customers of his firm. Lamont received $81,417 in commissions in connection with these transactions. Later, the fund filed a voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition. The United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida issued final judgments against, among others, the fund and its former owner. Those judgments required the fund and its former owner to, among other things, disgorge their ill-gotten gains and also required the former owner to pay a civil penalty. The findings also stated that Lamont disclosed his activities to the firm in a questionnaire, but he identified it as an outside business activity, not a private securities transaction. On that same questionnaire, Lamont denied participating in any private securities transactions.”
In October 2018, the California Department of Business Oversight (CDBO) opened an investigation into Lamont alleging that he, ”sold real estate based loan instruments through Woodbridge Group, which Woodbridge Group claimed were non-securities but which the CDBO determined are securities. This Consent Order merely calls for James Lamont to desist and refrain from selling any securities not properly registered or exempted within the state of California.”
Lamont has been the subject of 13 customer complaints between 2009 and 2020, according to his CRD report. Recent complaints are regarding:
- April 2020. “Allege representative’s investment strategy included recommending large concentrations in illiquid, speculative, low-quality, high commission alternative investments which resulted in losses to them.” The customer is seeking $2 million in damages and the case is currently pending. The complaint took place while Lamont was registered with Independent Financial Group, LLC and was regarding direct investments, REITS, and non-traded REITs.
- March 2020. “Complainants allege that representative Lamont sold an investment(which was subsequently deemed by regulators as a security) to them away from his broker/dealer, which should have known of this transaction. Complainants received full return of principal and interest from their investment, but a trust was created to claw back funds received by various investors to pay other investors who lost money in the investment. Complainants are alleging that even though the broker/dealer did not know of the transaction and did not participate, it must now take responsibility for any damages Complainants experience. Representative Lamont is not named as a respondent in the arbitration.” The case is currently pending. The complaint took place while Lamont was registered with Whitehall-Parker Securities, Inc. and was regarding debt-backed assets.
- October 2019. “Alleges investments were not suitable.” The customer is seeking $99,500 in this pending complaint. The complaint took place while Lamont was registered with Independent Financial Group, LLC and was regarding Viatical Settlement.
Pursuant to FINRA Rules, member firms are responsible for supervising a broker’s activities during the time the broker is registered with the firm. Therefore, Whitehall-Parker Securities, Inc. and Independent Financial Group, LLC may be liable for investment or other losses suffered by Lamont’s customers.
Erez Law represents investors in the United States for claims against brokers and brokerage firms for wrongdoing. If and have experienced investment losses, please call us at 888-840-1571 or complete our contact form for a free consultation. Erez Law is a nationally recognized law firm representing individuals, trusts, corporations and institutions in claims against brokerage firms, banks and insurance companies on a contingency fee basis.