Massachusetts securities regulators have charged a Massachusetts Securities America broker and radio host of misleading elderly investors with radio ads relating to Alzheimer’s disease that were actually meant to attract new investment clients.
Securities America Broker Targeted Elderly with “Bait-and-Switch” Scheme
The advisor, Barry Armstrong, is a Securities America broker and a radio personality who hosts “The Financial Exchange with Barry Armstrong.” The radio ads in question were played on Armstrong’s show the week of July 4th in 2015.
The commercials, written and performed by Armstrong, contained alarming information about the effects and early warning signs of Alzheimer’s and gave listeners a number to call. Listeners who called the number were directed to telemarketers trained and paid directly by Mr. Armstrong. Callers received a fact sheet, which contained publicly available information on Alzheimer’s and a written pitch to invest money with the Armstrong Advisory Group, Armstrong’s company.
Armstrong maintains that the ads were not misleading and resulted in no listener complaints. The Secretary of the Commonwealth William F. Galvin countered that the radio commercials were a bait-and-switch scheme aimed at the elderly and listeners with diminished capacity.
Armstrong’s attorney said that all of the commercials were vetted by Securities America and delivered what they promised. In total, 77 listeners called to request the Alzheimer’s fact sheet and two met with Armstrong group about investing. Neither became clients.
Ads Misled Listeners in Hopes of Attracting Clients
We believe that the fact that Securities America allegedly approved the ads does not immunize the ads from regulatory scrutiny. Brokerage firms have routinely engaged in improper conduct, so the fact that this brokerage firm approved the ads does not remove the possibility that the ads were, in fact, misleading.
Joseph McClellan, a Massachusetts securities regulator, said the nature of the ads made them sound like from a public service announcement about Alzheimer’s, which was misleading for listeners.
In notes made public about the hearing, McClellan said in opening statements, “The division filed this case against Mr. Armstrong because it wanted to safeguard the most vulnerable investors in the commonwealth from deceptive and misleading investments.”
Armstrong to Face Hearing for Abusing Public Position
The hearing against Armstrong will be in downtown Boston and is expected to take a few days. Securities America already has settled its part of the case in December of 2017, paying a $125,000 settlement.
Still in question is whether Armstrong’s listeners were aware that they were being solicited by Armstrong’s investment group when they heard the commercials. His attorney said during the first day of the hearing that since Armstrong was clearly identified as a Securities America broker and has an established following as a radio host who talks about financial matters, there was no ill-doing.
As of the time of publishing, Armstrong is still a registered broker with Securities America and continues to host his radio show every weekday from 10 a.m. until noon. “The Financial Exchange with Barry Armstrong” can be heard on 18 stations across New England.
Suffered Losses as a Result of Stockbroker Misconduct?
Do you believe you are a victim of stockbroker misconduct or have been deceived by Barry Armstrong or Securities America? Contact an experienced investment fraud attorney as you may have a case that requires immediate legal action.
Contact an Investment Fraud Attorney
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