The SEC’s complaint alleges that Demitrios Hallas repeatedly traded unsuitable investments in his customers’ accounts, exposing customers who were unsophisticated with limited or no investing experience and modest incomes, net worth levels, and assets to a significant degree of volatility and risk. In a little more than a year, Demitrios Hallas allegedly traded 179 daily leveraged exchange traded funds (ETFs) and exchange traded notes (ETNs) – products that the SEC alleges are inherently risky, complex and volatile, and only appropriate for sophisticated investors – in the customers’ accounts, generating commissions and fees of approximately $128,000. The net loss across all 179 positions was approximately $150,000. The SEC’s complaint further alleges that Hallas misappropriated more than $170,000 in funds from one customer. Instead of investing the funds on the customer’s behalf, Demitrios Hallas allegedly deposited the funds into his own personal bank accounts and spent them on personal expenses, including significant bar and restaurant bills, credit card and student loan payments, and rent.
SEC Charges Demitrios Hallas for Defrauding Customers
On April 25, 2017, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) charged Demitrios Hallas, a former broker, with knowingly or recklessly trading unsuitable investment products in the accounts of five customers and misappropriating more than $170,000 from one of those customers.
The SEC previously issued an Investor Alert warning about excessive trading and churning that can occur in brokerage accounts, and an Investor Bulletin educating investors about ETNs and the risks associated with them.
“As alleged in our complaint, Hallas enriched himself by systematically disregarding his customers’ investment profiles and repeatedly trading in risky, volatile products that were unsuitable for them,” said Andrew M. Calamari, Director of the SEC’s New York Regional Office and Co-Chair of the Enforcement Division’s Broker Dealer Task Force. “As reflected in this case and our recent case against two former JD Nicholas brokers, the SEC is very focused on brokers who seek to exploit their customers by willfully recommending unsuitable trades or strategies to them.”
The SEC’s complaint charges Hallas with violating Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5. The complaint seeks a permanent injunction as well as the return of ill-gotten gains plus interest and penalties.
For further information about this article, please contact Brenda Hamilton, Securities Attorney at 101 Plaza Real S, Suite 202N, Boca Raton, Florida, (561) 416-8956, [email protected] or visit www.securitieslawyer101.com. This blog post is provided as a general informational service to clients and friends of Hamilton & Associates Law Group and should not be construed as, and does not constitute, legal and compliance advice on any specific matter, nor does this message create an attorney-client relationship. Please note that the prior results discussed herein do not guarantee similar outcomes.
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Brenda Hamilton, Securities Attorney
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