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Broker Complaints: Berthel Fisher & Company (CRD# 13609)

Berthel Fisher & Company has a history of customer and regulatory complaints. Berthel Fisher & Company is a licensed broker-dealer registered with FINRA, or the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. Berthel Fisher & Company has been a FINRA member since 1983 and it has 400 representatives and 285 branches in 40 states.

Complaints against Berthel Fisher & Company are governed by FINRA. Berthel Fisher & Company is obligated to arbitrate any customer complaints before FINRA and our law firm exclusively handles FINRA arbitrations on behalf of investors. We are investigating complaints against Berthel Fisher & Company and are interested in hearing from you.

In December 2013, Berthel Fisher & Company was fined $675,000 for its sale of highly risky and speculative investments such as non-traded REITs and inverse exchange-traded funds, or ETFs. In connection with the complaint, FINRA alleged that Berthel Fisher did not enforce suitability standards for its customers by recommending risky investments to clients it should not have. In addition, the FINRA complaint also argued that Berthel Fisher & Company failed to conduct adequate due diligence with respect to these investments.

In a press release issued at the time of the complaint against Berthel Fisher & Company, Brad Bennett, FINRA’s Executive Vice President of Enforcement said, “[a] strong culture of compliance is an essential element of the proper marketing of complex products. Berthel’s supervision of the sales of non-traded REITs, inverse ETFs and other products fell short of this standard, as it failed to ensure that its registered representatives understood the unique features and risks of these products before presenting them to retail clients.”

Berthel Fisher & Company was the subject of a large lawsuit in connection with its sale of interests in DBSI TICs, which turned out to be part of one of the largest real estate Ponzi schemes in US history. According to some reports, the DBSI Ponzi scheme was a $600 million scam at its peak and Berthel Fisher was one of the largest distributors of interests in the Ponzi scheme. In 2008, the DBSI Ponzi scheme was revealed when the firm filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Since then, three top DBSI executives were criminally charged for their involvement.

According to published reports, Berthel Fisher & Company received approximately $5.6 million in commissions from the sale of DBSI products to about 300 of its clients. This made Berthel Fisher one of the largest broker-dealers involved in the massive real estate Ponzi scheme resulting in numerous customer complaints and a large litigation filed by the bankruptcy trustee. The DBSI lawsuit and the resulting customer complaints against Berthel Fisher were all settled with the DBSI bankruptcy trustee in 2014.

In addition to the 2013 complaint, Berthel Fisher & Company brokers also have a long history of regulatory and customer complaints. These complaints against Berthel Fisher & Company brokers range from forgery to mishandling of customer funds. To access a complete history of these complaints, please visit FINRA’s website.

If you or someone you know lost money investing with Berthel Fisher & Company and you have a complaint against the firm, please contact the securities and investment fraud attorneys at Fitapelli Kurta for a free consultation. Do not delay.

As a note to investors, Berthel, Fisher & Co. goes by the following names: BERTHEL, FISHER & FLEISCHMAN FINANCIAL SERVICES, INC., MORAMERICA FINANCIAL SERVICES, INC.