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FINRA Bars Ex-New York Life, Pru Rep Over Forged Annuity Forms

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What You Need to Know

  • The former rep allegedly submitted annuity and insurance applications for clients without their knowledge or consent.
  • The rep resigned from NYLIFE while it was investigating her actions.
  • She became registered with Pruco but it voluntarily terminated her earlier this summer, according to FINRA.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority has barred a former NYLIFE Securities and Pruco Securities rep who allegedly forged annuity applications and then provided “false and misleading testimony to FINRA staff” while it was investigating her termination from the New York Life division, according to FINRA.

NYLIFE Securities and Pruco Securities are units of New York Life Insurance Co. and Prudential Financial, respectively.

Alexis Cooke signed a FINRA letter of acceptance, waiver and consent on July 23 in which she agreed to be barred from associating with any FINRA member firm in all capacities. FINRA signed the letter Friday.

Cooke became registered as an investment company and variable contracts products rep with NYLIFE in November 2016. On July 13, NYLIFE filed a Form U5 notice disclosing that Cooke resigned in June 2018 during an internal investigation into allegations that she “submit[ed] insurance and annuity applications for customers without the customers’ full knowledge or consent … for the purpose of meeting production requirements,” according to FINRA.

In June 2018, Cooke became associated with another firm, also as an IR, according to FINRA. On July 12, 2021, that member firm filed a Form U5 stating that Cooke was voluntarily terminated as of June 24, 2021, FINRA said. FINRA did not identify the other firm in its AWC letter. But that firm was Pruco, according to Cooke’s report on FINRA’s BrokerCheck website.

“We reported this matter to the proper authorities when it came to our attention and fully cooperated with the investigation,” New York Life spokesman Kevin B. Maher told ThinkAdvisor on Monday. “Those involved are no longer with the company and no losses were sustained by any customers,” he said.

Pruco/Prudential did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

‘Falsification, Impersonation and Forgery’

Between May 2017 and February 2018, while associated with NYLIFE, Cooke “engaged in falsification, impersonation, and forgery with respect to two variable annuity applications involving two firm customers, and falsification with respect to two fixed annuity applications also involving those customers,” FINRA alleged.

Cooke falsely indicated in the variable annuity applications that the clients had authorized submission of the applications and consented to the issuance of the policies, according to FINRA. Cooke also created fake email addresses for the two clients, which she used to electronically forge their signatures on the variable annuity applications using DocuSign, according to FINRA.

“Cooke falsified the two fixed annuity applications by untruthfully stating in the applications that she had met with the customers, witnessed their signatures, and verified their respective identities,” according to FINRA. Cooke then “failed to respond truthfully to FINRA staff’s questions during testimony,” FINRA alleged.

Cooke received about $68,000 in advanced commissions for the four applications, all of which was eventually recovered by NYLIFE when the applications were not funded, according to FINRA.

“During her June 1, 2021 on-the-record interview with FINRA, Cooke initially denied creating the fake email addresses for the customers and using those email accounts to forge the customers’ signatures on the variable annuity applications,” according to FINRA.

“Only after FINRA staff presented Cooke with evidence that an email sent from the fake customer email addresses shared the same IP address as Cooke’s personal email address did Cooke admit in testimony to creating both fake email addresses. Cooke then admitted in testimony to electronically forging one of the customer’s signatures on one variable annuity application but denied forging the other customer’s signature on the other variable annuity application,” FINRA alleged.

But the DocuSign audit trail data provided by NYLIFE after Cooke’s interview showed that the other variable annuity application was also accessed and signed using a fake email address Cooke created, according to FINRA.

Through her actions, Cooke violated FINRA Rules 2010,  4511 and 8210, according to FINRA.

(Photo: Adobe Stock)