Nebraska Department of Banking and Finance

Consumer Alerts

2018

 

NDBF ISSUES ADVISORY ON FINANCIAL UNICORNS

 

April 24, 2018 (LINCOLN, NEB.) — The Nebraska Department of Banking and Finance (NDBF) is cautioning investors about pre-IPO investments in large privately held companies with supposed valuations of more than $1 billion, commonly referred to as "unicorns." Investing in unicorns is speculative and generally unavailable to retail investors.

 

NDBF is sharing an Informed Investor Advisory about financial unicorns. The advisory provides information and resources to help investors better understand "unicorn" companies. The advisory discusses the risks of investing in pre-IPO companies, including fraud, as well as disclosure, liquidity and valuation considerations.

 

The full advisory is available on the agency’s website here.

 

More information about the laws governing the securities industry in Nebraska can be found on NDBF’s website at www.ndbf.nebraska.gov. If you have questions about any investment matter, call NDBF’s Consumer Hotline toll free at (877) 471-3445 in Nebraska, or (402) 471-3445 if you are out of state.

Consumer Advisory - Unicorns

Informed Investor Advisory - Unicorns

 


 

Conversation Starters For Military Families

 

MARCH 1, 2018 (LINCOLN, NEB.) — This week is Military Saves Week, which encourages members of the military and their families to save money and build wealth.  The Nebraska Department of Banking and Finance (“NDBF”) proudly supports our service members and understands that they have unique challenges.

Military life changes quickly with deployments, relocations, promotions or changes in dependents. NDBF is issuing conversation starters to help military families prepare themselves to make safe and wise financial decisions. 

Budgeting

  • How much income goes toward fixed expenses (e.g. rent, insurance) versus flexible expenses (e.g. entertainment and investments)?
  • Have you created a financial plan to show where your money goes?
  • Have you taken advantage of military resources to help develop personal finance skills?
  • Are your family members aware of all financial accounts, bill deadlines, investments, etc. in case of deployment or an emergency?

Saving

  • What are your short and long-term financial goals (e.g. buy a home, start a family)?
  • Do you have an emergency fund for unexpected financial hardships?
  • How could you spend less and save more?
  • Are you aware of the special savings accounts and financial programs available to military personnel on deployment?

Investing

  • What are the risks and benefits of investing compared to saving?
  • What investments are appropriate now (e.g. securities, real estate, education)?
  • How do you balance immediate financial needs with long-term financial goals?
  • Do you understand basic investing strategies (e.g. diversification and dollar cost averaging)?
  • Who can help you make informed financial or investment decisions?
  • Are you taking advantage of all government-offered investment and retirement plans?

Scams and Frauds

  • How do you identify and report suspected fraud?
  • Where can you verify the background of financial professionals or firms?
  • How can you effectively monitor your investments?
  • How can you stay aware of current investment scams and fraud?

Additional information about Military Saves Week and a list of resources and events is available at www.militarysaves.org

 

More information about the laws governing the securities industry in Nebraska can be found on NDBF’s website at www.ndbf.nebraska.gov. If you have questions about any investment matter, call NDBF’s Consumer Hotline toll free at (877) 471-3445 in Nebraska, or (402) 471-3445 if you are out of state.

 Consumer Advisory - Military Families Conversation Starters

 


NDBF Announces New Resources and Tools for Choosing a Financial Professional

February 14, 2018 (Lincoln, Neb.)  — The Nebraska Department of Banking and Finance (“NDBF”) announced today a new resource, The Informed Investor Advisory: Financial Service Providers.  The advisory will help Nebraskans understand the different types of financial services providers, how to check out their background, and important questions to ask before signing a contract.

Nebraskans are also encouraged to check out a new online guide available at www.aarp.org/InterviewAnAdvisor that helps identify questions to ask before hiring a financial adviser.  Interview an Adviser is a free tool launched recently by AARP and the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA), of which the Department is a member.  The online tool does not require an AARP membership to use. 

“Many people would benefit from working with a financial professional.  It’s best to take the time and do your homework to understand the services they offer, their responsibilities to you, and what you will be paying.  However, many people don’t know where to start or what questions to ask,” says NDBF Deputy Director Claire McHenry.

The selection of any professional can be done best by following a step-by-step search process.  Check his or her credentials, experience, reputation and qualifications by using BrokerCheck.FINRA.org or contacting NDBF.  Identify your primary needs in seeking financial advice in order to evaluate each financial adviser you meet based on his or her ability to help fulfill those needs.  Ask a lot of questions to make sure the adviser is a good fit for you based on your financial situation and needs.  It is your responsibility and right to fully investigate the financial adviser's background, methods of practice, and credentials.

More information about the laws governing the securities industry in Nebraska can be found on NDBF’s website at www.ndbf.nebraska.gov. If you have questions about any investment matter, call NDBF’s Consumer Hotline toll free at (877) 471-3445 in Nebraska, or (402) 471-3445 if you are out of state.

Informed Investor Advisory Financial Service Providers
Choosing Advisers and Planners Consumer Alert

 

2017

NDBF OFFERS NEW PUBLICATION ON RED FLAGS OF GUARDIAN FINANCIAL ABUSE

NOVEMBER 2, 2017 (LINCOLN, NEB.) — The Nebraska Department of Banking and Finance (“NDBF”) announced the availability of a new brochure, “Guarding the Guardians,” to help spotlight suspected guardian financial exploitation.

“Education is an investor’s best defense against this type of financial abuse. We are pleased to provide this free resource to the public to strengthen awareness of the warning signs of guardian financial abuse,” said Deputy Director Claire McHenry.

A guardian is a person or entity appointed by a court to exercise some or all authority over a person and/or estate. A guardian has power to make decisions related to the health and safety of the incapacitated person. Financial abuse by guardians occurs when the guardian improperly uses the protected individual’s financial accounts.

In addition to helping individuals identify suspected guardian abuse, the “Guarding the Guardians” brochure also provides examples of warning signs of exploitation and offers information on where to turn for help.

The brochure was developed by the North American Securities Administrators Association, of which NDBF is a member. A copy of the brochure is available on the agency’s website at www.ndbf.nebraska.gov/about/news-publications. To learn more about investor education resources available in Nebraska, contact the NDBF at (877) 471-3445 in Nebraska, or (402) 471-3445 for out of state. 

Guardian Brochure
Consumer Alert - Guardian Financial Abuse


NDBF ISSUES BINARY OPTIONS ADVISORY

SEPTEMBER 15, 2017 (LINCOLN, NEB.) — A binary option is a type of all-or-nothing investment contract, similar to placing a bet. Like the flip of a coin, there are only two possible outcomes: heads you win or tails you lose. When an investor purchases a binary option contract, the investor predicts the value of an underlying asset (currency, stock, etc.) at a predetermined time or date in the future – similar to placing a bet. If the investor correctly predicts the asset price at the end of the contract, which can be just a matter of minutes, the investor receives the payout agreed upon in the contract. If the investor is incorrect, there is no payout and the investor loses the amount invested in the binary option.

The Nebraska Department of Banking and Finance (“NDBF”) is cautioning investors about schemes related to binary options amid the proliferation of online binary option platforms and a growing number of related investor complaints. The advisory provides information and resources to help investors better understand binary options, their risks and where to turn for help.

The advisory also discusses common investor complaints and offers common tactics and warning signs of schemes related to binary options, including: unsolicited investment offers; high-pressure sales tactics; personal information requests; and a lack of information about the offering firm or its management.

The full advisory is available on the agency’s website at www.ndbf.nebraska.gov/about/news-publications.

Before making any financial decisions, ask questions, do your homework and contact NDBF’s Consumer Hotline toll free at (877) 471-3445 in Nebraska, or (402) 471-3445 if you are out of state.

CONTACT: Claire McHenry, Deputy Director – Securities Bureau
PHONE: (402) 471-2171
EMAIL: claire.mchenry@nebraska.gov

Consumer Alert Binary Options


Ohio Company Ordered to Stop Soliciting Investors

Publication Date: August 31, 2017

August 31, 2017 (Lincoln, Nebraska) – The Nebraska Department of Banking and Finance (“Department”) issued a Cease and Desist Order against an Ohio company known as A Voice 4 U, LLC; its President, Katrina S. Farmer (“Farmer”); and its affiliates, control persons, officers, directors, agents, and employees.  The Order prohibits the entity and individuals named from offering or selling securities in Nebraska until the securities have been registered with the Department. The Order also prohibits the entity and individuals named from offering or selling securities in Nebraska until they are registered as broker-dealers or agents of a broker-dealer with the Department.  

From 2012 to 2014, Farmer sold profit-sharing agreements in A Voice 4 U, LLC to investors in Nebraska. The profit-sharing agreements were not registered in Nebraska under the Securities Act of Nebraska. Neither A Voice 4 U, LLC nor Farmer were registered in Nebraska as a broker-dealer or agent of a broker-dealer.  The sale of unregistered securities and the solicitation of investments by unlicensed broker-dealers is illegal under Nebraska law.

Individuals who invested in the above securities are asked to contact the Department.

More information about the laws governing the securities industry in Nebraska can be found on the Department’s website at www.ndbf.nebraska.gov. If you have questions about any investment matters, call the Department’s Consumer Hotline toll free at (877) 471-3445 in Nebraska, or (402) 471-3445 if you are out of state.

CONTACT: Thomas A. Sindelar, Investigation Supervisor
PHONE: (402) 471-2171
EMAIL: thomas.sindelar@nebraska.gov 

A Voice 4 U C&D
A Voice 4 U Consumer Alert


Nebraska Man Convicted of Securities Fraud

Publication Date: May 22, 2017

May 22, 2017 (Lincoln, Neb.) – Scott Robert Prill (“Prill”), formerly of Kearney and Holdrege Nebraska, has been convicted of securities fraud in three Nebraska counties. Prill sold unregistered promissory note securities to Nebraska residents to fund a cattle business. Prill also fraudulently failed to provide material information to the investors in his offer and sale of securities to them. Prill was sentenced to five years of probation in Douglas County, five years of probation in Phelps County, and six years of probation in Buffalo County. In addition, Prill was sentenced to 180 days in jail in Buffalo County. Prill was also ordered to pay restitution totaling $128,000.

Scott Robert Prill Consumer Alert May 2017


Papillion Company Ordered to Stop Soliciting Investors

Publication Date: May 10, 2017

The Nebraska Department of Banking and Finance (“Department”) has issued a Cease and Desist Order to Blazefly, Inc., Papillion, NE, its President Jamie Crager, and its affiliates, control persons, officers, directors, agents, and employees.  The Order prohibits the entity and individuals named from offering or selling securities in Nebraska until the securities have been registered, and until the entity and individuals are registered as broker-dealers or agents of a broker-dealer with the Department.   

Blazefly Inc C&D
Blazefly Inc Order Affirming C&D
Consumer Alert Blazefly Inc May 2017


Omaha Company Ordered to Stop Soliciting Investors

Publication Date: March 20, 2017

The Nebraska Department of Banking and Finance (“Department”) issued a Cease and Desist Order against an Omaha-based company, Parker Grant BMC, Inc., its President Daniel M. Porter (“Porter”), and its affiliates, control persons, officers, directors, agents, and employees. The Order prohibits the entity and individuals named from offering or selling securities in Nebraska until they are registered as broker-dealers or agents of a broker-dealer with the Department.

Parker Grant BMC Consumer Alert
Parker Grant BMC C&D