Lost Money With John C. Jacobsen?

John C. Jacobsen Leaves Industry Amid Regulatory Investigation

John C. Jacobsen, a former broker with twenty-five years of experience, chose to exit the brokerage field rather than cooperate with an ongoing regulatory probe into allegations surrounding his termination. The investigation centers on claims that he misclassified trades on inherited accounts.

John C. Jacobsen (CRD# 2864333), agreed to a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority bar without admitting or denying the regulator’s findings or the accusations behind his dismissal, according to a letter of settlement finalized July 19.

If you have suffered any financial loss under the guidance of Mr. Jacobsen, you might be able to recover money. The securities attorneys at Banks Law Office have focused on recovering money for investors for more than 40 years. You can call our office directly at 503-222-7475 or contact us via email.

Jacobsen’s Violations

Jacobsen violated the industry self-regulator’s Rule 8210 by declining to provide the information it requested, according to the settlement. FINRA also said he violated Rule 2010, which requires member firms and associated persons to “observe high standards of commercial honor and just and equitable principles of trade.”

According to an article in the AdvisorHub, Jacobsen did not respond to a request for comment on his decision to accept the the allegations. His lawyer, with Stevens & Lee in New Jersey and a Morgan Stanley spokesperson also declined to comment. According to BrokerCheck, Jacobsen has past complaints from clients.

Finra launched its inquiry into Jacobsen’s activities following his termination notice, documented in Morgan Stanley’s Form U5. The notice stated that Jacobsen had been discharged due to the submission of transactions under production numbers that contradicted an agreement with another representative. This inconsistency resulted in a shortfall of revenue allocated to the other representative.

Trends in Similar Cases

FINRA  enforcement   is creating this stir. The investigations stem from an internal review conducted by Morgan Stanley regarding potential misuses of its sunsetting program. While the majority of the Finra cases concluded with fines of approximately $2,500 and suspensions spanning around 20 days for cooperating brokers, some individuals, like Jacobsen, have elected to exit the industry altogether.

Miscoding Allegations and Context

This wave of cases involving miscoding allegations has a common thread – brokers were found to have misappropriated revenue credits from retired advisors participating in Morgan Stanley’s sunsetting program. In some instances, those who faced termination asserted that the errors were due to clerical mistakes in coding.

In the other cases involving miscoding allegations, the brokers were found by the wirehouse to have stolen revenue credits from retired advisors who were participating in the sunsetting program. As a defense, some of those terminated advisors cited clerical errors of miscoding.

Jacobsen started at Morgan Stanley’s predecessor in 1997, according to BrokerCheck. After his dismissal in November 2020, Jacobsen joined independent broker-dealer Independent Financial Group, LLC in January 2021 and remained with the firm until March 22, 2023, according to the database. He is no longer registered as an investment advisor.


If you invested money with John Jacobsen, give our office a call (503-222-7475). Although we can never guarantee a result, we know how to evaluate a potential claim! You have nothing to lose and even if we don’t take your case, you will understand more about your situation after a conversation with one of our experienced attorneys.


Banks Law Office Investigates Fitbit For Alleged Failure To Pay Individuals Participating In The Fitbit Ionics Recall

On August 19, 2023, Banks Law Office began representing an individual who alleges that Fitbit refused
to pay them after they mailed in Fitbit Ionic Smartwatches to the Fitbit Ionics Recall. If Fitbit has refused
to pay you for Fitbit Ionics that you mailed in connection with the Fitbit Ionics Recall program, please
contact Banks Law Office today.

On March 2, 2022, Fitbit and the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CSPC) announced
a recall of Fitbit Ionic smartwatches because there were more than 100 reported incidents of individuals
being burned by the watch overheating. Some individuals even suffered third-degree burns.

“Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled Ionic smartwatches and contact Fitbit to receive
pre-paid packaging to return the device,” announced the CSPC. “Upon receipt of the device, consumers
will be issued a refund of $299. Fitbit will also provide participating customers with a discount code for
40% off select Fitbit devices.”

Banks Law Office believes that Fitbit has refused to pay some individuals who have attempted to mail
Ionics in connection with the Recall program. In particular, some individuals have attempted to submit
multiple Ionics in the recall program, and Fitbit has refused to provide some of those individuals with
the packaging necessary to participate in the recall or has refused to pay the individuals for Ionics they
mailed in.

One individual sued Google, Fitbit’s parent company, in Gwinnett County Magistrate Court (or “small
claims court”) alleging that as part of the recall program, the individual sent 50 watches but did not
receive the recall proceeds of $299.00 per watch. Google did not appear in person in the proceeding but
submitted a brief to the court. In the brief, Google requested that the court dismiss the case on various
grounds, including that the “recall is intended only for eligible customers who purchased and utilized the
devices for personal use. . . . the Fitbit recall center received forty-three devices [from the plaintiff], all
of which had never been paired to any of the @vat.beauty email addresses provided by Plaintiff during
recall registration. . . . Plaintiff has also failed to provide any proof of purchase or proof of personal use.”

According to sources, the court later entered an award requiring Google to pay the plaintiff for the
watches he submitted in the reimbursement program. If true, Banks Law Office believes that award was
the legally correct decision. Fitbit/Google cannot refuse to pay individuals submitting Ionics in the recall
program merely because they have not personally used the devices or paired the devices to their email
addresses. The refusal clearly violates Fitbit’s and the CSPC’s announced terms of the recall.

Fitbit’s refusal to pay also runs contrary to the objectives of a recall. The CSPC has stated in its recall
handbook that “[t]he objectives of a recall are (1) to prevent injury or death from defective or violative
products; (2) to locate all such products as quickly as possible; (3) to remove such products from the
distribution chain and from the possession of consumers; and (4) to communicate to the public in a
timely manner accurate and understandable information about the product defect or violation, the
hazard, and the corrective action. Companies should design all informational materials to motivate
retailers and the media to get the word out and to spur consumers to act on the recall.”

By refusing to pay people who have not personally used or connected the Ionics they are submitting,
Fitbit is encouraging people to use the Ionics instead of submitting them in the recall program.

If Fitbit has refused to pay you for Fitbit Ionics that you mailed in connection with the Fitbit Ionics Recall
program, please contact Banks Law Office today.

Oregon Residents Robert D. Christensen and Anthony Matic Charged by the SEC

Oregon Lawyers

It is not often that we see SEC investigations in our home state! The Securities and Exchange Comission (SEC) recently announced legal action against two Oregon residents, Robert D. Christensen and Anthony M. Matic, along with several entities under their control. The SEC has accused them of orchestrating a Ponzi-like scheme, which has led to charges being filed against them for allegendly misleading investors into purchasing over $10 million in promissary notes.

Allegations Against Oregon Residents

The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon, alleges that from at least January 2018 through September 2022, Christensen and Matic utilized four entities they founded, namely Foresee Inc., The Comission PDX LLC, The Policy PDX LLC, and Innings 150 LLC, to raise funds from retail investors, including retirees, under the guise of real estate investments. Jeff Manning writes in Oregon-Live that in some cases, “Christiansen convinced people to sell their homes and invest the proceeds in the promissory notes.” Investors were enticed by the promise of hight interest rates ranging from nine to fifteen percent, with assurances of principal repayment within a few months. Christensen and Matic were unable to fulfill these commitments within the stated timeframes, resorting to using new investor funds to pay returns to earilier investors, indicative of a Ponzi scheme.

Misappropriation of Investor Funds

The commplaint alleges misappropriation of investor funds for unauthorized and undisclosed personal expenses, including vacations, gifts, casino trips, massages, personal expenses, a whiskey club membership, and cryotherapy. Jeff Manning writes in Oregon-Live that,

Legal Action

Banks Law Office is currently investigating the situation to examine if there is any opportunity to recover investor’s money. Please contact our office Contact to speak with an experienced securities litigation attorney with nearly 40 years of experience in Oregon.


Trouble for Clear Energy Technology Association, Inc. (CETA) and Freedom Impact Consulting LLC.g,

The SEC is alleging that more than $155 million has been raised from investors through a fraudulent scheme related to Clear Energy Technology Association, Inc. (CETA), a company controlled by former Fairfield Mayor, Roy Hill and his associate, Eric N. Shelly. The Freestone County Times reports that investors were reportedly promised 10% quarterly returns based on false claims, including a nonexistent contract with ExxonMobil Corporation and the existence of patented CCUs. However, the CCUs are said to be at an early prototype stage, and the funds raised were allegedly misappropriated for personal expenses, payroll, and other undisclosed accounts.

According to the SEC Complaint, Hill and Shelly are accused of soliciting investors in an oil and gas-related fraudulent scheme. CETA claimed to lease carbon capture units (CCUs) to major oil and gas producers, purportedly enhancing hydrocarbon production and generating revenue. Shelly’s company, Freedom Impact Consulting, offered and sold investments in funds aimed at raising capital for CETA.

The SEC has taken an emergency action to halt all activities related to Clear Energy Technology Association, Inc. (CETA), a company controlled by Hill, and an investment company based in Pennsylvania. We suggest that any invest

Banks Law Office focuses on protecting investors from the actions of bad actors. If you are a victim of this alleged scheme, please  to discuss your options for potential recovery with an attorney who specializes in investmet fraud. Most of our cases are taken on a contingency fee which means you don’t owe us any money unless we get your money back.

SEC files emergency action

SW Financial expelled by FINRA


The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) is an organization dedicated to investor protection and market integrity. On May 12th, 2023 FINRA announced that SW Financial had been expelled from its membership for multiple violations. The violations include making misrepresentations to customers about its sales of private placement offerings of pre-initial public offering (pre-IPO) securities, churning customer accounts, and failing to supervise its representatives.

Unfortunately, FINRA’s action does not help investors recover their money. If you invested with the  SW Financial between January 2018 and December 2021, you might have a claim against SW Financial or the  firm’s co-owner and CEO, Thomas Diamante . We are experts in investment recovery and we invite you to contact our office to investigate your situation. Our evaluation is free of charge and we  take cases on a contingency fee which means that we don’t get paid unless we make a recovery.


Red Rock Secured LLC Misled Investors

A recent SEC lawsuit alleges that Red Rock Secured and its CEO, Sean Kelly, and two of its former Senior Account Executives, Anthony Spencer and Jeffrey Ward were part of an investment scheme that involved selling gold and silver coins to investors. Court documents suggest that Red Rock’s senior executives targeted investors with TSP and other retirement accounts encouraging them to sell securities to fund the purchase of gold and silver coins. In addition to misleading sales information, the complaint asserts that the markups on the sales were much greater than the defendants stated.

The director of the SEC’s New York Regional office states, “The defendants used fear and lies to defraud investors out of millions of dollars from their hard-earned retirement savings.”

According to the SEC’s complaint, this investment scheme has been in action since at least 2017. Investors were repeatedly solicited with misleading sales pitches that encouraged them to sell securities in their retirement accounts to invest in the silver and gold coins. Red Rock was collecting huge markups on the sale.

In court documents, the SEC says Red Rock targeted participants in the Thrift Savings Plan for federal employees, including military members, falsely claiming that all their investment options available within the plan were equity funds.

If you have questions about your investments, please call our office to talk with an attorney who specializes in advocating for investors.   Senior Attorney Bob Banks has focused on investment advocacy for nearly 40 years. You can also email us directly. All conversations are confidential and protected.

SimTradePro Investigation


The SEC refuses to recommend  a fiduciary rule for broker-dealers; new rule reiterates FINRA suitability standard and allows  conflicts of interest between brokers and investors.

The Securities and Exchange Commission in a 4-1 vote has rejected the fiduciary rule as the standard of conduct for broker-dealers and their representatives.  Instead, the SEC has proposed “Regulation Best Interest,”  a rule that largely maintains the status quo. See SEC Proposed Regulation § 240.15l-1.  Regulation Best Interest begins with promising language,  stating that a broker must act in the best interest of a client and not place the financial or other interests of the broker ahead of the investor’s interest when making an investment recommendation.  But, the rule goes on to provide that the best interest standard is met by satisfying FINRA’s existing suitability requirements — reasonable basis, customer specific and quantitative suitability.    And, the proposed Regulation Best Interest includes a conflict of interest section that does not prohibit conflicts.  Rather, it requires only that brokers “identify” and “disclose and mitigate”  material conflicts with their clients.  That is a far cry from a true fiduciary standard that investors have hoped for.   The dissenting SEC Commissioner, Kara M. Stein, accurately summed up the new proposal, saying “…Despite the hype, today’s proposals fail to provide comprehensive reform or adequately enhance existing rules. In fact, one might say, the Emperor has no clothes.”

How did we get here?

The Quest For A Uniform Fiduciary Standard. 

Traditionally broker-dealers and their registered representatives have been held to a different standard of conduct than registered investment advisors.  The former are licensed by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and their conduct is governed by FINRA’s  suitability standard requiring that a firm or associated person have a reasonable basis to believe a recommended transaction or investment strategy involving a security or securities is suitable for both some investors and the specific client receiving the investment.  See FINRA Rule 2111.   Registered Investment Advisors, on the other hand, are held to a fiduciary standard that includes an affirmative duty of utmost good faith, and full and fair disclosure of all material facts, as well as an affirmative obligation to employ reasonable care to avoid misleading clients.  See Sec. Exch. Comm’n v. Capital Gains Research Bureau, 375 U.S. 180, 192 (1963) (interpreting the duties under the Investment Advisor Act of 1940).

Although the standards are significantly different for brokers and advisers, several studies have shown that most retail investors are not aware of the difference between brokers and investment advisors.  See, e.g., Study on Investment Advisors and Broker-Dealers, Securities and Exchange Commission, 2011, As a result, regulators, legislators and investor advocates have sought to develop a uniform fiduciary standard applicable to all financial advisers.

Efforts to implement a uniform fiduciary standard have been underway for some time.  Former SEC Chairwoman Mary Shapiro favored the adoption of a fiduciary rule, as did her successor, Mary Jo White.  However, neither had the support they needed on the Commission to adopt a fiduciary rule.  Section 913 of the Dodd Frank Act, Public Law No. 111-203, directed the SEC to study the standards of conduct that should govern investment advisors and broker-dealers, and even gave the SEC the specific authority to promulgate a fiduciary standard rule if its study indicated a need for one.  Current SEC Chairperson Jay Clayton had been on record as being in in favor of some form of a fiduciary standard and seemed to be moving in that direction.  On June 1, 2017, he sought public comment from investors and other interested parties on the standards of conduct to govern investment advisors and broker-dealers.

The Department of Labor Fiduciary Rule

Six years after Dodd-Frank’s directive to the SEC became law, the SEC was still studying the fiduciary issue.  Perhaps because of the SEC’s inaction, in 2015 President Obama called upon the Department of Labor to create a rule requiring all advisors of retirement accounts—brokers and registered investment advisors alike — to place their clients’ interests first.  The DOL subsequently proposed new regulations in April 2016.  Known as the DOL Fiduciary Rule, it provides that anyone giving investment advice for compensation in retirement accounts (including IRA and SEP-IRA accounts, pension plans, 401s, and defined benefit plans) must act in the account holder’s best interest and must disclose all potential conflicts of interest.  Part of the DOL Fiduciary Rule became effective in June 2017.  The two provisions that have gone into effect require advisers to give advice that is in the best interests of their clients, charge reasonable compensation, and avoid “misleading statements” about investment transactions and what they are being paid.

The DOL Fiduciary Rule has met staunch opposition from some members of the financial services industry and they got  considerable high-level support after the election of Donald Trump.  On February 3, 2018, President Trump issued a memo for the Department of Labor to re-assess the rule’s impact on retirement advice.   Bills have since been introduced in Congress to kill the DOL Fiduciary Rule.  And, lawsuits were filed challenging the Rule on various theories. Two cases have reached the federal appellate courts, and those courts reached different outcomes on the validity of the DOL rule.  The Tenth Circuit rejected an Administrative Procedures Act challenge to the application of the DOL Rule to fixed indexed annuity sales.  Market Synergy Group, Inc. v. United States Department of Labor, Case No. 17-3038 (10th Cir.  March 13, 2018).  Two days later, the Fifth Circuit held in a 2-1 decision that the DOL lacked statutory authority to enact the rule and struck it down.  Chamber of Commerce v. United States Department of Labor, Case No. 17-10238 (5th Cir.  March 15, 2018).  The DOL has not said whether it will appeal the decision, but it seems unlikely that an agency that was directed by the President to re-assess the rule that was invalidated would seek certiorari to argue for its validity.

Present Uncertainties

As a result fo these developments, we not only are left without a uniform standard, but we don’t know for certain what standards the federal regulators will apply.   The DOL continues to reassess its fiduciary rule and is not enforcing it so long as advisors are making a good faith effort at changing their policies. And, the federal appellate courts have reached different outcomes on the validity of the DOL rule.  For its part in making things progressively more confusing and less investor-friendly, the SEC has proposed a conduct rule that does little more than maintain the status quo.  Its Best Interest Rule proposal will be challenged by investors over course of the 90 day comment period to come.

Fiduciary Standard and State Law

Is there a silver lining anywhere for investors in all of this?   Investors looking for one should look to the states and individual investor rights lawyers.  Although the standard remains elusive on the federal level, things are different in some states.  The California Supreme Court in Duffy v. Cavalier, 264 Cal. Rptr 740, 752 (1989), affirmed an earlier decision in Twomey v. Mitchum, Jones & Templeton, Inc. 262 Cal.App.2d 690, 69 Cal.Rptr. 222 (1968) and held that “[a]s repeatedly stated in Twomey and the many subsequent cases following it, the relationship between any stockbroker and his or her customer is fiduciary in nature, imposing on the former the duty to act in the highest good faith toward the customer.”  However, the extent of the fiduciary duty depends upon the relationship between the adviser and the customer.  Where the broker is merely an order taker, his fiduciary duty is simply to execute the order as placed.  But, where the broker essentially controls the account, either through discretionary trading authority or making recommendations that are routinely followed, then the duty becomes a traditional fiduciary duty.  Duffy, 264 Cal Rptr. at 753.  See alsoAshburn v. AIG Fin. Advisors, Inc., 183 Cal.Rptr.3d 679, 694, 234 Cal.App.4th 79 (Cal. App. 2015)(citing Duffy with approval).

The rule in Oregon is similar.  In Wallace v. Hinckle Northwest, 79 Or. App. 177, 182  (1986), the court summarized the rule as “A stockbroker is a fiduciary if his client trusts him to manage and control the client’s account and he accepts that responsibility.”  The court held that whether the account is discretionary is not controlling, and that the courts had to review the facts underlying the nature of the relationship.  Cf.  Berki v. Reynolds Securities, Inc., 27 Or. 335 (1977), where the court found no fiduciary relationship because the broker had no control over the investments that were made.

The Nevada legislature recently took matters into its own hands and enacted a statute imposing fiduciary responsibilities on financial planners, who are defined as a person “who for compensation advises others upon the investment of money or upon provision for income to be needed in the future, or who holds himself or herself out as qualified to perform either of these functions.”  NRS 628A.010.   NRS 628A.020 provides:

A financial planner has the duty of a fiduciary toward a client. A financial planner shall disclose to a client, at the time advice is given, any gain the financial planner may receive, such as profit or commission, if the advice is followed. A financial planner shall make diligent inquiry of each client to ascertain initially, and keep currently informed concerning, the client’s financial circumstances and obligations and the client’s present and anticipated obligations to and goals for his or her family.

There are exemptions, including those for advisers who are not located in Nevada.  NRS 90.310 – NRS 90.340.

Meanwhile, state securities regulators have made clear that they may act where they believe an investment adviser has violated the DOL Fiduciary Rule, even if the DOL itself is refraining from doing so.  The Massachusetts Securities Division has filed an action against Scottrade for violation of the fiduciary rule when it ran a sales contest that affected retirement accounts.   A spokesperson for Secretary William Galvin was quoted in The Wall Street Journal stating, “The secretary feels that since the federal government is unclear” on the future of the fiduciary rule, “the states have to step up and protect the people.”   The Wall Street Journal, February 15, 2018.  The Journal also reported that “A bipartisan group of 13 state treasurers, in a letter to Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta dated June 7, said: ‘We are committed to protecting the financial interests of our constituents—in particular, ensuring that retirement planning and investment advice is not conflicted.’ The treasurers, including those from Pennsylvania, Oregon and Iowa, asked Mr. Acosta to preserve the ‘common-sense measure.’”  The Wall Street Journal, September 12, 2017. Lawyers representing investors in arbitrations and court will no doubt continue to rely on state law and fiduciary standards where applicable as well.

The bottom line for investors: don’t rely on the SEC or DOL for investor protection. Look to your lawyer and your state regulators to protect your rights. If you have questions or concerns please contact me at 503-222-7475 or bob@bankslawoffice.com


Robert Banks is a securities litigation attorney based in Portland, Oregon.  He represents investors in FINRA arbitrations and court cases.  He is a member of FINRA’s National Arbitration and Mediation Committee and is the Chair of its Rules and Procedures Subcommittee.  He is a former president and a Director Emeritus of the Public Investors Arbitration Bar Association.  The views expressed above do not represent the views of FINRA, the National Arbitration and Mediation Committee, or necessarily, PIABA.  



How Trust Impacts Investor Abuse

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Investor abuse and trust are explored in this video posted by the Public Investors Arbitration Bar Association (PIABA). Bob Banks answers the question, “why don’t more investors bring claims against their financial advisers?”