On July 2, 2014 Thomas David Sharp was fined $5,000 and suspended for 10 business days for sending misleading emails regarding Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs).
According to the Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent (AWC) signed by Thomas Sharp, between February and March 2009, while employed by Ameriprise Financial, Thomas Sharp sent misleading emails regarding a REIT to two potential investors. Specifically, on February 20, 2009 Sharp sent an email telling one customer,
“[The REIT] is buying up properties right now where the baby boomers are spending (or going to be spending) their money: ski resorts, golf courses, some retail, local attractions, etc. The properties they already hold are doing well even in this environment because they purchased them for a great price and people are flocking there as they are cutting back on their spending. They are also snatching up new properties at bargain prices right now.” (Emphasis added).
As a result of this email from Thomas Sharp, the customer invested $25,000 in the REIT on February 26, 2009 and another $25,000 in the REIT on October 2, 2009. However, Thomas Sharp failed to tell the investor in this email one of the most important things about this REIT, which is that the largest property operator of the REIT was experiencing significant financial hardship and on January 9, 2009, the REIT had to restructure that operator’s lease as a result of these financial difficulties.
On March 17, 2009 Thomas Sharp sent an email to another customer regarding a REIT which stated,
“I am also recommending a new type of investment called Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) which are doing EXTREMELY well right now . . . these particular programs are so new they aren’t saddled with real estate that they overpaid for 3-5 years ago. One . . . invests in properties where people will be spending their money over the next several years especially during recessionary times like these-local attraction sites, golf courses, ski resorts, specialty ski resort retail (all of which are still doing well – at least the ones they own even in today’s economic climate), so it is doing well.”
On March 26, 2009, as a result of this email, the customer invested $10,000 in the REIT and on September 23, 2009 the customer’s husband invested an additional $15,000 in the REIT. Unfortunately for both customers, Thomas Sharp’s email again was misleading. Specifically the statement, “these particular programs are so new they aren’t saddled with real estate that they overpaid for 3-5 years ago” is false since the REIT was formed in 2004 and the REITs portfolio contains properties that were bought between 2004 and 2006.
Thomas Davis Sharp was fined $5,000 and received a 10 business day suspension from association with any FINRA member firm in any capacity. Thomas Sharp no longer works for Ameriprise Financial and he is not employed by any FINRA approved member firm.
Stories like these are not uncommon for investors today, unfortunately. REITs were once the up and coming savior of the real estate and financial industry, however lately their true colors have shown and they have become a thorn in the side of investors.
If you or someone you know has lost money investing in REITs, or as a result of Thomas David Sharp, Ameriprise Financial or one of their other brokers, you may be entitled to financial compensation for your loss. Time is limited to file your claim, so do not wait. Contact the experienced attorneys at Fitapelli Kurta today to discuss the merits of your case and your next course of action. All cases are taken on a contingency fee basis and you consultation is completely free of charge. Call now to speak directly to an attorney.