The Miami-based Financial Industry Regulatory Authority panel ruled that Bennett, Western International Securities and Bennett Group Financial Services are required to give Steven Santagati, a dating counselor, about $764,000 in compensation and nearly $280,000 to cover legal and related fees.
Bennett has an extensive regulatory record – including 17 disclosures over her 28-year career with five firms.
The recently settled claims were first filed against Bennett in 2014 and asserted “breach of the general duties of reasonable care, honesty and disclosure; recommending unsuitable investments …; common law fraud; breach of fiduciary duty; failure to supervise; and negligence.”
In 2015, Bennett was permitted to resign from broker-dealer Western International, following the discovery of “promissory notes with firm customers by registered representative’s company without disclosure to the firm,” according to her BrokerCheck records.
Bennett hosts the weekly radio program “Financial Myth Busting with Dawn Bennett” on Sunday mornings. Several years ago on the show, she portrayed Bennett Group Financial Services’ returns as being in the “top 1%” of firms worldwide, without disclosing that the returns were calculated for a model portfolio and not based on actual investor performance.
The SEC instigated a cease-and-desist orders against her and her firm in 2015 for making “material misstatements and omissions” and “additional misstatements in an effort to obstruct the investigation and to ‘cover up’ their prior fraud,” according to a filing.
“In short, Bennett and the [RIA] firm grossly overstated the amount of assets they ‘managed,’ by at least $1.5 billion, in a calculated effort to inflate their profile and prestige,” the SEC explained at the time.
“They made the false and fraudulent claims to a national financial advisor ranking service … [and] also made the misstatements on a Washington, D.C.-area radio program … to create the impression that Bennett and her firm were larger and more successful players in the industry than they [actually] were,” the regulator added.
Speaking of players, Santagati has built a robust business as a dating advisor and media personality. He is the author of “The Manual: A True Bad Boy Explains How Men Think, Date, and Mate — and What Women Can Do to Come Out on Top” and appears regularly on television.
In 2014, for instance, he went on CNN to defend several men in a video that showed them catcalling and harassing women.
— Check out Ex-Rep, Radio Host in Texas Arrested for $6M Fraud on ThinkAdvisor.