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Investor Protection

Customer Imposter Hit Up UBS Account for $367,000

November 22, 2019

by Howard Haykin



Imagine you’re a customer with UBS Financial Services and someone took $367,000 out of your brokerage account. Shock and anger set in before you call for help and answers. As it turns out, there were two culprits - a computer hacker and your broker. 



EMAILS FROM A CUSTOMER IMPOSTER.    On December 14th, your broker received an email requesting that $68,740.55 be sent from your brokerage account to a third party (“Third Party A”). The email was actually sent by an imposter purporting to be you. The imposter apparently hacked into your email account and commandeered an earlier email chain between you and your broker.

- - So sure that you sent the email, the broker submitted the payment request - falsely attesting that she called you to confirm (as she's required) - though she never did.


Two more emails followed on December 28th and January 10th, requesting that 2 checks be sent to Third Party A and 2 checks be sent to another third party (“Third Party B") for a total of $298,646.92

- - Again, the broker was so sure you sent the emails that she again submitted the payment requests - while falsely attesting that she had called you to confirm - though she never did.



CUSTOMER PROTECTION.    Investors should take comfort knowing that large brokerage firms have policies, procedures and controls that, if carried out, will adequately protect your brokerage accounts from unauthorized disbursements. If, however, a firm or its associated persons don't follow those safeguards, then you should have solid legal standing to be compensated for losses.


That said, investors should make it a point to review their monthly statements - with a keen eye toward large and unusual entries. When unable to police their own accounts, investors should seek help from a trusted friend, family member or independent ‘financial watchdog'.


Post Script.  After 21 years without a single violation, this broker's Wall Street career is essentially finished. As payment for her lies and negligence, the broker ... resigned from UBS, was fined $5,000, was suspended 2 months, and now is a sales agent with Allstate Insurance.



[For further details, click on FINRA Case #2019061427301.]