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Vitthal Patel: Denville, New Jersey Financial Advisor Suspended

A disciplinary action taken by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority against former Denville, New Jersey broker and investment advisor Vitthal Patel (CRD# 1775477) suspended him over allegations he forged customer signatures. A former representative of PFS Investments, Patel was suspended for six months and ordered to pay a fine of $5,000.

According to a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent (No. 2018059723101) dated August 2019, Vitthal Patel was employed with PFS Investments when, between January and April 2018, he “forged electronic signatures of customers on 26 new managed account documents.” FINRA’s findings state that he was notified at the beginning of the year that certain of accounts under his management “would be replaced by another type” of account, and that the clients affected “were required to sign the new account opening forms” for the newly opened accounts. Subsequently Patel engaged in the forgeries by forging the clients’ names “electronically on the forms and electronically signing applications” instead of the customers, according to FINRA. He also allegedly “forged handwritten signatures of customers on four other” documents relating to customer accounts, including a college savings plan transfer document, a change of address form, and two beneficiary change forms. In these instances, he allegedly carried out the forgeries “by cutting and pasting photocopies customer signatures.” FINRA goes on to state that one of the affected customers did not consent to the account change, and further that Patel was required by the firm to secure original customer signatures, so as to provide confirmation that the changes were authorized by the customers; instead of obtaining original signatures, FINRA states, he submitted forgeries for processing “as if he had obtained the actual signatures.” His conduct ultimately affected 30 customers, according to FINRA, which found the actions constituted a violation of FINRA Rule 2010. As a result of the foregoing alleged conduct, he was suspended from association with any FINRA member in any capacity for six months, and was ordered to pay a fine of $5,000.

Vitthal Patel’s disclosure records also list one employment separation: specifically, his voluntary resignation from PFS Investments in August 2018, following allegations he “affixed a client’s electronic signature to a new account investment application.”

Vitthal Patel is currently not registered as a broker or investment advisor. His employment history includes PFS Investments in Denville, New Jersey, where he was registered from 1988 until 2018. He currently holds zero state licenses and has passed five securities industry qualification examinations.

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