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Louis Cook: Ex-National Planning Broker Sanctioned, Barred

Louis Cook (CRD# 2469412), formerly a financial professional in Staten Island, New York and Knoxville, Tennessee, was recently the subject of a disciplinary action by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority in connection to allegations he made misrepresentations to customers and misused their funds. Formerly registered with National Planning Corporation and Securities Service Network, Cook has been barred from acting as a broker.

According to a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent (No. 2018057690301) dated March 2020, Louis Cook was associated with National Planning Corporation when, between August 2016 and December 2016, he sent at least 11 customers, all of whom had bought variable annuity products through him and the firm, “a cover letter accompanied by a Third Party Authorization Form,” without submitting this correspondence for firm review. He had allegedly met these customers through his firm-approved outside business activity, “a company that purportedly specialized in financial planning for parents and caregivers of individuals with special needs,” providing advice regarding such matters as Medicaid eligibility and long-term care needs. FINRA’s findings state that “many of these customers were financially unsophisticated,” senior citizens, or the parents of children with developmental disabilities. According to FINRA’s findings, he “made a number of intentional misrepresentations” in the cover letter, such as that it was necessary for him to continue servicing their variable annuity investments, that the authorization “was triggered by the Department of Labor’s ‘Fiduciary Rule,” and that if they did not take any action, the customers may have limited choices “going forward.” FINRA states that each of these representations was false.

Eleven customers signed and returned the forms as a result of these misrepresentations, the findings go on to state, empowering him to withdraw funds from their annuities, though they “did not intend to authorize Cook to withdraw funds.” He allegedly used the forms to withdraw funds exceeding $150,000 from the customers’ variable annuities between August 2016 and February 2018, while associated with National Planning Corporation and Securities Service Network. FINRA states that he directed the funds he withdrew to be deposited into his bank account away from his member firms. The findings conclude that he “was not entitled to these customer funds, and he made improper use of such funds.” As a result of the foregoing alleged conduct, he was barred from associating with any FINRA member firm in any and all capacities.

Louis Cook is currently not registered as a broker. His previous registrations include Forest Securities Service Network, National Planning Corporation, MetLife Securities, and Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. He has passed three securities industry qualifying examinations and his BrokerCheck report lists zero state securities licenses. (Information current as of May 27, 2020.)

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