In August 2013, FINRA announced that Giancarlo Ciocca, who was a Registered Representative with Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith in Coral Gables, Florida, submitted a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent in which he was barred from association with any FINRA member in any capacity. Without admitting or denying the findings, Ciocca consented to the described sanction and to the entry of findings that he impersonated one of his customers at his member firm during a telephone call with a firm call center employee.

FINRA’s findings stated that Ciocca impersonated one of his customers in order to obtain online access to the customer’s account. The customer was not on the call; instead Ciocca, impersonating the customer, was on the call with his sales assistant. After Ciocca obtained online access to the account, he used that access to change account preferences so his firm would no longer send hard-copy statements to the customer and to change the email address associated with the account to one Ciocca controlled. The findings also stated that the customer had sustained market losses in his account and Ciocca undertook these activities to prevent the customer from learning of those losses. Ciocca created and sent the customer inaccurate account performance reports, which listed transactions that had not occurred and did not reflect the actual losses that had been incurred in the account. Ciocca misrepresented to his firm that he was in compliance with firm policies prohibiting the creation of performance reports. The customer complained to Ciocca, who then attempted to settle the customer’s complaint. This firm did not authorize the settlement offer, which was made without the firm’s knowledge.

The findings also included that Ciocca failed to respond to a request for information and documents. FINRA also issued a request to Ciocca for an on-the-record interview. After being warned that a failure to appear would be a violation of FINRA Rule 8210, Ciocca’s counsel informed FINRA that Ciocca would not appear for the interview as requested or at any other time.  According to Mr. Ciocca’s CRD, Merrill Lynch has paid $7,977,000 in settlements to Mr. Ciocca’s former clients.