FINRA has suspended a former Wells Fargo advisor for one month and fined him $5,000 for allegedly processing a fraudulent wire transfer request from an imposter posing as a customer, according to his recent settlement with FINRA.
Francisco Jose Ortiz at the time was a registered client associate with Wells Fargo in Miami and assisted a more senior financial advisor with client service requests, including wire transfers. He allegedly processed the $9,850 wire request even after the customer called to notify him that his email account had been compromised and that the pending wire request was not genuine, according to FINRA.
The mess-up appears to have been due to a miscommunication with the senior financial advisor. Apparently forgetting the customer call, Ortiz assumed from an email he received from the senior financial advisor that the senior advisor had spoken to the customer and received authorization for the wire, when in fact he had not.
FINRA scolded Ortiz for falsely representing on the wire transfer request form that the senior financial advisor had verbally confirmed the request with the customer. He also falsely represented that the senior advisor had confirmed the customer’s date of birth and recent account activity with the customer, FINRA claimed.
Wells Fargo recalled the wire and returned the customer’s funds after the customer called to complain, FINRA said. The wire transfer occurred in May 2015.
Ortiz could not be reached for comment. He settled the matter with FINRA without admitting or denying the allegations against him.
Ortiz worked for Wells Fargo in Miami from May 2013 to June 2015, when he voluntarily resigned over the processing of the wire transfer, according to his BrokerCheck report.
Emily Acquisto, a spokeswoman for Wells Fargo, declined to comment beyond what was available publicly in BrokerCheck.
Ortiz joins other bank advisors sanctioned by FINRA over wire transfer lapses. Corinne Renae Mittag, for example, a former Bank of the West broker, was suspended in September 2017 for 30 days for wiring $34,000 to an individual posing as a customer. She allegedly neglected to confirm the request with the customer by telephone.