FINRA Officially Frowns On Financial Advisers Posing As Rivals And Looking For Sex On Craigslist

Where's your sense of fun, FINRA?
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We knew the competitive world of rural Northern Californian financial advisers could get rough and tumble, but this seems like a little much...

FINRA sign

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc. is suspending and fining Paul Betenbaugh, a former registered representative with Edward Jones, for impersonating a competing adviser and using that adviser's information to create explicit internet ads seeking sexual encounters with men.

Wow. How did this kick off?

The Sacramento Bee reports that the story began in December 2014, when Mr. Gunderson was fired from Edward Jones for violating company policy around confirming trades with clients who gave instructions to a nonregistered branch office administrator. Edward Jones replaced him with Ms. Rodriguez, who was recruited and mentored by Mr. Betenbaugh.
Mr. Gunderson set up his own firm half a mile away, but was not allowed to contact his former clients because of a pre-employment noncompete agreement with Edward Jones. Mr. Gunderson alleges in his lawsuit that Ms. Rodriguez and Mr. Betenbaugh placed a newspaper ad taunting Mr. Gunderson with the headline, "Is Your Broker Giving You the Cold Shoulder?"
Some clients left to join Mr. Gundersen's new firm, and one filed a complaint letter with Edward Jones regarding Ms. Rodriguez. Ms. Rodriguez believed the complaint was actually written by Mr. Gundersen, and Mr. Betenbaugh decided to retaliate on behalf of his friend.
"Because of my anger at what happened to Lisa, and without Lisa's knowledge, I took actions which were not honorable, and determined to place a post on ... Craigslist which would annoy Mr. Gundersen," Mr. Betenbaugh said in his declaration.

Ah, so the whole thing was just an innocent prank gone awry. It's not like anything really bad happened...

According to the Sacramento Bee, Mr. Betenbaugh posted three fake gay-sex ads on Craiglist in September and October 2015, using the physical description and business phone number of Dalas Gundersen, a former Edward Jones adviser in Willows, Calif., to "harass, intimidate and defame" him.
The ads featured graphic language to describe the desired sex acts, and Mr. Gundersen said his phone was inundated with unwanted calls and text messages, some including pictures of male genitalia. One caller was arrested for a violent crime shortly after contacting Mr. Gunderson.

Ruh roh...

"To build his business, Gundersen had to answer every call he received and accept every request for a meeting, not knowing if those calls and meetings would manifest into sexual assaults," a lawsuit filed in Glenn County Superior Court states.

Okay, yeah, this is a layup, even for FINRA.

Finra suspends, fines broker for posting fake sex ads [InvestmentNews]

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