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Regulatory Sanctions

Employee Caught in a Check-Kiting Scheme

November 20, 2017

by Howard Haykin


All associated persons – registered and non-registered– pose risks to financial services firms. All need to be vetted and monitored so as to safeguard the assets of firms and their customers.


Brian Scarpellini agreed to pay a $5K fine and to serve a 2-year suspension to settle FINRA charges that he engaged in a check-kiting scheme.


BACKGROUND.    Scarpellini, a resident of Plainsboro, NJ, entered the securities industry in April 2014 as a Non-Registered Fingerprint associated person. In March 2015, he joined Merrill Lynch and remained with that firm until 10/2/15, when he was U5’d. Currently serving a 2-year suspension, he’s no longer associated with any member firm.


FINRA FINDINGS.    In August 2015, Scarpellini wrote 3 checks from his Wells Fargo personal checking account, payable to himself, in the amounts of $542, $250, and $375 (totaling $1,167). At the time he wrote these 3 checks, Scarpellini knew he didn’t have funds in his Wells Fargo checking account to cover those checks.


Scarpellini deposited those checks into his personal accounts at Bank of America shortly after writing them, and he used the funds for a variety of personal expenses – including auto insurance and ATM withdrawals. After the checks were returned to Wells Fargo for insufficient funds, Scarpellini’s Bank of America accounts were overdrawn by $1,158. To date, he has not repaid Bank of America.


FINANCIALISH TAKE AWAYS.    Scarpellini apparently was a young, inexperienced, short on education or common sense, and SEEMINGLY ACTING ON A DEATH WISH. How else can one explain his actions while working for financial institution?


Perhaps a case like this will serve as a reminder to each firm that all of its associated persons - including non-registered personnel - need reinforcement when it comes to cultivating a firm-wide 'culture of compliance'.


This case was reported in FINRA Disciplinary Actions for October 2017.

For details on this case, go to ...  FINRA Disciplinary Actions Online, and refer to Case #2016048882501.