A former Stifel advisor allegedly used blank checks from his 87-year-old client’s account — meant for use in the event the client was no longer able to pay caregivers — and spent part of the funds on a 1976 Corvette.

FINRA barred Mitchell Toby Yanow from the industry for stealing more than $205,000 from his elderly client, according to a letter of acceptance, waiver and consent filed last week. The letter details how the Boca Raton, Florida-based advisor allegedly used the checks to pay for personal expenses, including the car, overdue homeowner’s association fees and his children’s summer camp fees. Yanow accepted the findings without admitting or denying guilt.

FINRA headquarters
Jessica Mathews


From at least August 2017 through May 2018, while registered with Stifel, Yanow allegedly wrote approximately 33 checks from the client’s account. In May, Stifel discharged the former advisor from the firm in a Form U5 because he allegedly “took money from a client account for personal use without authorization,” per FINRA BrokerCheck records.

Yanow, and his lawyer Teny Geragos, did not return requests for comment.

Yanow started in the industry in 1991 with Halpert and Company, a previously registered firm based in Millburn, New Jersey, per BrokerCheck. He worked with Oppenheimer for seven years, Wachovia for three years and UBS for five years, per BrokerCheck. A representative at Stifel’s Boca Raton, Florida, branch declined to comment.

Citing company policy, a Stifel representative could not comment on former advisors.

The SEC recently proposed a bill that would establish a Senior Investor Taskforce to focus on dangers facing investors over the age of 65. The new taskforce would make recommendations for legislative and regulatory actions to mitigate problems experienced by senior investors.
The Congressional Budget Office estimated the project would have a gross cost of $7 million from 2019 to 2023.

The regulator encourages investors to check the backgrounds of people selling investments by using the SEC's investor.gov website to identify registered professionals.

Sean Allocca

Sean Allocca is an associate editor of Financial Planning, On Wall Street and Bank Investment Consultant.