Smiley Bishop & Porter has been engaged to represent former clients of Blake Richards, a Buford, Georgia broker who has been barred from the securities industry for fraud and misappropriation. Richards was employed by several firms including H&R Block Financial Advisors, Ameriprise Advisor Services, Inc. and LPL Financial, Inc.
Richards defrauded his clients, who included widows and the elderly, by having them make checks for investments payable to entities such as BMO Investments and Blake Richards Investments. The clients were told the funds were to be used to buy securities and Richards concocted false account documentation to show that the funds had been invested. In reality, Richards simply kept the money.
LPL fired Richards in May 2013 for what it described as “MISAPPROPRIATION OF CLIENT FUNDS.” Subsequently, Richards was sued by the SEC which obtained an order barring him from the securities industry and requiring him to disgorge nearly $2 million in fines and penalties. He has not paid this sum.
Sadly, the problem of outright theft by stockbrokers is much too common. While the brokers who steal client funds seldom are caught in time to recover the money, claims can be brought against the firms that employ them.