Washington D.C., Dec. 19, 2019 — The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged Sacramento, California-based investment adviser firm Springer Investment Management, Inc. dba Springer Financial Advisors (SFA) and owner Keith Springer with defrauding hundreds of retail clients, most of them in or close to retirement.
The SEC’s complaint alleges that Springer and SFA received millions of dollars in undisclosed compensation and other benefits for recommending certain investment products while claiming that they did not have any conflicts of interest. According to the complaint, many clients learned of Springer through his radio show, “Smart Money with Keith Springer,” and Springer misled prospective clients into believing he was selected to host the show because of his industry expertise. In reality, SFA paid to broadcast the show. The SEC’s complaint further alleges that Springer went to great lengths to hide prior charges by the SEC and his disciplinary history with the New York Stock Exchange, hiring internet search suppression consultants and instructing employees not to provide the information to prospective clients.
“Our complaint alleges that Springer actively targeted vulnerable retirees by misleading them about his prominence in the industry and promising to act in their best interests,” said Erin E. Schneider, Director of the SEC’s San Francisco Regional Office. “Investment advisers must be truthful about their background and fully disclose all conflicts of interest.”
The SEC’s complaint, filed in federal court in Sacramento, charges Springer and SFA with violating the antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws as well as SEC rules concerning advertisements, compliance, required disclosures, SEC reporting, and recordkeeping. The SEC is seeking injunctions, disgorgement of allegedly ill-gotten gains, and civil penalties.
The Office of Investor Education and Advocacy issued an Investor Alert warning investors about the role that radio programs can play in soliciting victims for investment schemes. The alert provides tips on how to investigate radio programs and persons associated with them.
The SEC’s investigation was conducted by Sallie S. Kim and supervised by Monique C. Winkler in the San Francisco Regional Office. The SEC’s litigation will be led by Sheila E. O’Callaghan, Bernard B. Smyth, and Ms. Kim. A related SEC examination led to the investigation and was conducted by Kenneth P. Schneider, Erica R. Gould, Steven R. Wolz, Benjamin Yu, and Matthew M. O’Toole of the San Francisco Regional Office.