Wolf Alexander Popper of New York New York is a registered representative of J.H. Darbie and Co. Inc. and president of Wolf A. Popper Inc. who has been fined $5,000.00 and suspended from associating with any Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) member in any capacity based upon consenting to findings that he made misleading statements to customers concerning variable annuity investments. Letter of Acceptance Waiver and Consent No. 2015043369502 (Apr. 10, 2018).

According to the AWC, from May of 2015 to September of 2015, prospective customers were sent communications from Popper that detailed an investment strategy utilizing variable annuities that FINRA concluded to be misleading. Particular, he recommended that customers refinance their homes or obtain second mortgages in order to procure funds for the purchases of variable annuities that contained riders which provided customers with immediate and future guaranteed income streams.

The AWC stated that a letter had been distributed to six hundred sixty prospective customers; an e-mail had been distributed to forty-four customers; and an advertisement had been placed in the Wall Street Journal. According to the AWC, those communications regarding the variable annuity: compared Popper’s investment strategy to an individual retirement account or a 401(k) without apprising prospective customers about the difference between investing in those accounts and a variable annuity; failed to detail the risks relating to the use of home mortgage proceeds for investing; relayed that prospective customers would generate guaranteed income without disclosing risks pertaining to variable annuities; failed to confirm that a variable annuity was being recommended; and detailed the strategy as not containing costs when variable annuities and the riders attached to them contained fees.

FINRA concluded that inadequate information had been provided to the customer which was necessary to provide for customers to properly evaluate the variable annuity strategy. Moreover, the AWC stated that Popper’s communications were misleading by claiming that customers would not incur costs by pursuing the strategy when they would incur fees on the variable annuity and accompanying riders. The AWC further revealed that the communications were misleading by Popper making a comparison between individual retirement accounts and variable annuities without discussing how the liquidity and expenses of those accounts differed. Consequently, FINRA found that Popper’s conduct was violative of FINRA Rules 2010, 2210(d)(2), 2210(d)(1)(B) and 2210(d)(1)(A).

FINRA Public Disclosure reveals that Popper has been identified in two customer initiated investment related disputes containing accusations of Popper’s improper conduct while employed with J.H. Darbie and Co. Inc. Particularly, on March 7, 2011, a customer initiated investment related complaint concerning Popper’s activities was resolved for $13,800.00 in damages based upon allegations that a trading strategy involving government debt investments was utilized in the customer’s account that was not suitable for the customer. Thereafter, a customer initiated investment related arbitration claim concerning Popper’s conduct was settled for $160,000.00 in damages supported by accusations that Popper executed treasury long bond transactions which failed to conform to the customer’s objectives for investing. FINRA Arbitration No. 15-01136 (Oct. 11, 2015).

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