the staff of the Ridgewood blog
Elizabeth NJ , Acting Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin and the Division of Consumer Affairs today announced that the New Jersey Bureau of Securities has revoked the registration of a former Wells Fargo agent and investment adviser representative for violating New Jersey’s securities laws. The Bureau found that Mario E. Rivero, Jr. made misrepresentations to at least four of his senior Wells Fargo customers to convince them to turn over at least $529,780 in cashier’s checks, over which he ultimately gained control for personal uses.
According to the Bureau, Rivero convinced these elderly clients that their money would be invested in his mother’s and friend’s businesses. However, the Bureau’s investigation found that Rivero used the majority of the funds for personal expenses that included gambling at casinos, restaurant meals and car payments.
The customers Rivero allegedly defrauded include three elderly siblings who have an eighth-grade level of education, did not speak or read English, and had diminished capacity. Prior to becoming their financial professional, Rivero and his family were friends with the siblings for more than ten years, having spent time in each other’s homes and celebrated holidays together.
In a Summary Revocation Order issued by the Bureau today, Acting Bureau Chief Amy G. Kopleton found that from January 1, 2018 to November 30, 2020, Rivero engaged in dishonest and unethical business practices in the sale of securities, and defrauded at least four Wells Fargo customers in the amount of at least $529,780.
“Defrauding elderly and other vulnerable clients of their hard-earned savings is a terrible betrayal of trust and a flagrant violation of our investor protection laws,” said Acting Attorney General Platkin. “We are committed to protecting all New Jersey investors, and have zero tolerance for investment professionals who seek to exploit seniors, individuals with limited English language proficiency, and others at heightened risk of fraud.”
“Rivero took advantage of vulnerable investors, some of whom had limited English-speaking abilities,” said Sean P. Neafsey, Acting Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. “Unscrupulous individuals who betray their clients for personal gain undermine the financial system, and we will continue to enforce the law to ensure the integrity of New Jersey’s financial industry.”
The Bureau’s investigation also found that Rivero used some of the misappropriated funds to trade in options and in less than two weeks lost all the funds in trading.
“Rivero took advantage of family friends and other elderly clients who relied on him for guidance and advice to finance his personal expenses,” said Acting Bureau Chief Kopleton. “Rivero’s conduct was illegal and reprehensible. Today’s action sets an example to anyone who attempts to prey on older investors.”
On June 4, 2021, Rivero signed an Acceptance Waiver and Consent Letter with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) barring him from associating with any FINRA members in any capacity.
The Bureau’s investigation was handled by Supervising Investigators Rachel Glasgow and Irwin Slotnick, and Investigator Gillian Spellman.
The Bureau is charged with protecting investors from investment fraud and regulating the securities industry in New Jersey. It is critical that investors “Check Before You Invest.” Investors can obtain information, including the registration status and disciplinary history, of any financial professional doing business to or from New Jersey, by contracting the Bureau toll-free within New Jersey at 1-866-I-INVEST (1-866-446-8378) or from outside New Jersey at 973-504-3600, or by visiting the Bureau’s website. Investors can also contact the Bureau for assistance or to raise issues or complaints about New Jersey-based financial professionals or investments.