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FINRA Upholds Bar of Ex-Broker Caught Cheating on Series 24 Exam

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What You Need to Know

  • A broker and CCO allegedly cheated while taking the Series 24 exam for the second time after failing it the first time.
  • He allegedly wrote exam info on his driver’s license, fingers and forearm and took an unauthorized break during the exam.
  • In its decision Friday, FINRA’s NAC upheld the bar and order that Lykos pay $5,110.44 in hearing costs, and ordered that he pay appeal costs of $1,496.79.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s National Adjudicatory Council has upheld a bar handed down by FINRA to a former broker who allegedly cheated during a Series 24 exam by writing exam information on his driver’s license, fingers and forearm and taking a long unauthorized break in the middle of the exam.

The Series 24 exam — also known as the General Securities Principal Qualification Exam (or GP) — tests the “competency of an entry-level principal to perform their job as a principal dependent on their corequisite registration,” according to FINRA.

Thomas John Lykos Jr. served as a broker and chief compliance officer for the Houston-based FINRA member firm Sanders Morris Harris from 2018 to 2019, according to his report on FINRA’s BrokerCheck website.

In a May 1, 2020 complaint, the broker-dealer self-regulator’s Department of Enforcement alleged that, while taking the General Securities Principal Qualification Exam at a testing center on July 20, 2018, Lykos was “captured on video reviewing notes he had written in between his fingers.”

The FINRA Hearing Panel found that Lykos received outside assistance during the exam and violated its rules of conduct by taking an unscheduled and unauthorized break outside the test center premises, writing exam-related details on his driver’s license, fingers and forearm, and by leaving the test center with writing on his fingers and forearm.

The Hearing Panel barred Lykos for those violations, and he appealed the decision.

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In a decision posted on Friday, FINRA’s NAC upheld the Hearing Panel’s bar and order that Lykos pay $5,110.44 in hearing costs and also ordered he pay appeal costs in the amount of $1,496.79.

Lawrence Rothenberg, an attorney who represented Lykos, Sanders Morris Harris and its parent firm, Tectonic Advisors, did not respond to requests for comment on Monday.

Lykos failed the exam the first time he took it, on April 9, 2018, according to FINRA. As a result, his firm removed him as CCO and told him he needed to pass the test to resume his duties as CCO as soon as possible, FINRA said.

Afraid of losing his position, Lykos allegedly went all out to try to pass the exam in July 2018.

In addition to allegedly writing exam-related information on his body and driver’s license, he also allegedly wrote information on a business card he tried to sneak into the testing room after he returned from his break. Instead of turning over the business card, he allegedly tore it up and threw it away, according to FINRA.

(Photo: Adobe Stock)