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FINRA Bars 2 Reps for Cheating on Remote Exams

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What You Need to Know

  • Both reps were barred for accessing the internet while taking a FINRA registration exam online.
  • This is the first time FINRA has barred reps for online cheating.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority said Wednesday that it has barred two registered reps for cheating on remote exams — a first.

Brandon Autiero of New Jersey and Harris Kausar of New York were barred from the securities industry for cheating during qualification exams administered online.

FINRA found that each individual violated FINRA rules by seeking assistance from public internet forums during the online exams.

FINRA’s order states that Autiero, who was associated with Equitable Advisors, accessed the internet to assist with answering questions while taking one FINRA exam online, in violation of FINRA Rules 1210.05 and 2010, and two exams for the North American Securities Administrators Association online on four different occasions, in violation of FINRA Rule 2010.

While associated with Barclays, Kausar accessed the internet to assist with answering questions while taking a FINRA registration examination online, in violation of FINRA Rules 1210.05 and 2010, FINRA states.

“Test cheaters are on notice,”  Jessica Hopper, Executive Vice President and Head of FINRA Enforcement, said in a statement. “Regardless of the testing environment, FINRA remains vigilant in our efforts to detect cheating and will vigorously pursue disciplinary action — including permanent bars — against any individual who cheats on qualification examinations.”

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, candidates have been permitted to take qualification exams through an online testing service as well as in person, FINRA said.

Online exams use camera-equipped computers and are proctored remotely by testing service staff.

While these are FINRA’s first actions against individuals for online cheating, FINRA points out that it has suspended or barred 12 individuals since January 2021 who cheated on in-person qualification exams or possessed unauthorized materials while taking in-person tests.

In settling the matters, Autiero and Kausar accepted and consented to the entry of FINRA’s findings without admitting or denying them.