FINRA has permanently barred Jeffrey C. McClure from the securities industry for converting nearly $89,000 from an elderly customer’s bank account while working for Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC and an affiliated bank in Chico, California, the regulator announced on Monday. (On FINRA’s BrokerCheck listing, McClure’s first name is spelled Jeffery.)

The affiliated bank has made the customer whole for her losses, FINRA said.

“FINRA has a zero tolerance policy for brokers who steal from their clients, especially those who are the most vulnerable,” said Brad Bennett, FINRA Executive VP and Chief of Enforcement, in a statement. “Rooting out this type of misconduct and removing these kinds of bad actors from the industry is a top priority.”

According to FINRA, McClure misappropriated 36 blank signed checks totaling $88,850 drawn on the customer’s affiliated bank account without her knowledge or consent from December 2012 to August 2014. McClure, who had access to the checks because the customer had authorized him to pay her rent and other expenses as agreed, instead deposited the checks into his personal account at a third-party bank.

The FINRA letter states that “instead of using the checks as authorized, McClure wrote 36 checks payable to himself. He then deposited the checks into his personal checking account at [a] third-party bank and used the funds to pay his own personal expenses.”

The 36 checks ranged in amounts from $800 to $5,000 – $88,850 in total.

According to FINRA, McClure would transfer funds from the client’s savings account at the affiliated bank when she did not have sufficient funds in her checking account to cover McClure’s checks.

In settling this matter, McClure neither admitted nor denied the charges, but consented to the entry of FINRA’s findings.

McClure was discharged from Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC on Oct. 1, 2014 for making “unauthorized withdrawals from a customer’s bank account,” according to the BrokerCheck report.

FINRA’s investigation was conducted by the Office of Fraud Detection and Market Intelligence and the Department of Enforcement.

As the American population ages, elder abuse issues have been increasingly popping up.

To address the rising number of elder fraud cases, the North American Securities Administrators Association recently formed a new committee to tackle the “wide range of challenges” confronting senior investors, regulators and securities industry professionals.

Since 2008, NASAA said, 34% of enforcement actions taken by state securities regulators have involved senior victims among states that track victims by age. 

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