The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s Department of Enforcement filed a complaint Tuesday against an ex-Ameriprise representative, alleging he converted more than $42,000 of an elderly client’s funds for his own use.
“The advisor’s conduct was wholly inconsistent with our values and in direct violation of our clear policies and procedures,” Ameriprise said in a statement Thursday. “We quickly detected and stopped the activity, ensured the client was fully reimbursed, terminated the advisor and notified the proper authorities.”
The former Ameriprise broker, Sean Michael Refsnider, did not immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday.
Refsnider was a representative at Ameriprise from 2012 until Aug. 20, 2019, when he was terminated by the firm after it concluded that the client’s funds were misappropriated, according to a disclosure on his profile at FINRA’s BrokerCheck website.
On Jan. 21, FINRA made a preliminary determination to recommend that disciplinary action be brought against Refsnider for the conversion of funds, as well as his failure to respond to FINRA’s requests for documents and information while the regulator was investigating his actions, according to BrokerCheck.
In the complaint filed Tuesday, FINRA’s Department of Enforcement alleged that, from July through August 2019, while associated with Ameriprise, Refsnider converted the funds of his customer, identified only as “Customer A,” while his own “finances were in disarray.”
Refsnider allegedly “procured a check from Customer A in the amount of $20,000 and he then used the funds to pay his mortgage and other personal expenses,” according to the complaint. Without Customer A’s authorization, Refsnider also had Ameriprise issue a debit card linked to the client’s account with the firm and then used the debit card to make about 60 separate purchases totaling about $17,317, and to make $4,300 in cash withdrawals, the complaint said. Refsnider also transferred an additional $475 in cash from Customer A’s Ameriprise Account to himself via PayPal and Venmo, according to the complaint.
By converting the $42,092 or so in funds belonging to his firm customer and improperly using them, Refsnider violated FINRA Rules 2150(a) and 2010 (governing standards of commercial honor and principles of trade), the complaint said.
By not cooperating fully with FINRA’s investigation into his conversion of Customer A’s funds, Refsnider violated FINRA Rules 2010 and 8210 (requiring FINRA members to provide information and testimony when requested), according to the complaint.