Julie Anne Darrah (also known as Julie Banuelos), of Orcutt, California, a stockbroker registered with Mutual Securities Inc. and President of Vivid Financial Management Inc., is the subject of an enforcement action initiated by Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in which the regulator is seeking sanctions against Darrah based upon allegations that Darrah defrauded her customers. Securities and Exchange Commission v. Julie Anne Darrah, et al., Complaint No. 2:23-cv-08843 (October 20, 2023).

The SEC’s enforcement action against Darrah, brought in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California Western Division, revolves around allegations of a fraudulent scheme where Darrah is accused of misappropriating approximately $2,250,000.00 from nine customers between November of 2016 and July of 2023. During this period, Darrah was working for Vivid Financial Management Inc., where she held the position of President and Chief Compliance Officer.

SEC alleges that the scheme targeted elderly females, many of whom had entrusted Darrah with discretionary authority over their brokerage accounts and appointed her as a trustee or granted her power of attorney. Darrah allegedly violated her fiduciary duties by funneling customer funds for personal use.

Darrah allegedly moved her customers’ funds into her own bank accounts, mixing them with her personal finances. She reportedly used this money for several personal expenditures, including purchasing and upgrading real estate, covering personal expenses, buying high-end vehicles, and investing in restaurant ventures (including PC&J Joint Ventures LLC). Additionally, the regulator claims Darrah hid her fraudulent activities through various means, such as redirecting customer account statements to her address, misleadingly stating she was not serving as a trustee for customers, and obtaining a customer’s signature on two retroactively dated promissory notes.

The Complaint alleges violation of Securities Act of 1933 Section 17(a)(1), Securities Exchange Act of 1934 Section 10(b), SEC Rule 10b-5, and Investment Advisers Act of 1940 Section 206(4). Therefore, SEC seeks permanent injunctions, disgorgement, and civil penalties.

Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Public Disclosure additionally shows that on September 15, 2023, Wealth Enhancement Advisory Services discharged Darrah as an investment advisor representative based upon allegations that Darrah committed fraud, wrongfully took customer property, and violated securities laws, firm policies, and professional standards. The allegations also include Darrah’s failure to cooperate with the firm’s internal review.

Darrah is also referenced in a customer initiated investment related FINRA securities arbitration claim in which the customer requested $702,647.97 in damages based upon allegations that Darrah sold securities in the customer’s accounts, moved the customer’s money to bank accounts Darrah controlled, and then stole the funds. This allegedly occurred while Darrah was associated with Mutual Securities Inc. FINRA Arbitration No. 23-03394 (December 7, 2023).

Darrah was associated with Mutual Securities Inc. in Orcutt, California from June 28, 2013, to January 4, 2022.