April 21, 2020
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Department of Enforcement recently approved a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent (AWC) submitted by Melissa A. Niederhauser to resolve allegations of converting funds from two customers at her associated firm, Horace Mann Investors in Springfield, Illinois. Niederhauser ceased working for the firm on August 29, 2019 and is not currently associated with another FINRA member firm at this time.
According to the AWC, Niederhauser was licensed to sell insurance and acted as an office manager and administrative assistant at Horace Mann. Niederhauser performed numerous duties for the firm including responding to customer service inquiries, accepting checks from customers and facilitating completion of various brokerage accounts and securities forms. Though she was not and is not licensed as a broker, FINRA considers Niederhauser an Associated Person.
FINRA Department of Enforcement alleges in the AWC that from January 2016 to August 2017, Niederhauser converted nearly $74,000 through 20 transactions in two Horace Mann customers’ variable annuity accounts without their knowledge or authorization. Niederhauser allegedly forged their signatures on withdrawal request forms, specified the address to which the check should be mailed to, forged the customers’ endorsement signature, and then cashed the withdrawal checks to use for personal expenses. For these infractions, Melissa Niederhauser consented to a bar from associating with any FINRA member firm in any capacity.