FINRA Bars Two Individuals for Cheating on Online Qualification Exams
Regulator’s First Enforcement Actions for Online Cheating
WASHINGTON — FINRA announced today that it has barred Brandon Autiero of New Jersey and Harris Kausar of New York from the securities industry for cheating during qualification examinations administered online. The enforcement actions are FINRA’s first in connection with cheating on remote exams.
"Test cheaters are on notice: regardless of the testing environment, FINRA remains vigilant in our efforts to detect cheating and will vigorously pursue disciplinary action – including permanent bars – against any individual who cheats on qualification examinations,” said Jessica Hopper, Executive Vice President and Head of FINRA’s Department of Enforcement.
To become registered, securities professionals must pass qualifying exams administered by FINRA. These exams cover a broad range of subjects regarding securities markets, regulation and industry practices. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, candidates have been permitted to take qualification exams through an online testing service as well as in person. Online examinations use camera-equipped computers and are proctored remotely by testing service staff.
In the two separate matters, FINRA found that each individual violated FINRA rules of conduct by seeking assistance from public internet forums while taking the online examinations.
While these are FINRA’s first actions against individuals for online cheating, FINRA has suspended or barred 12 individuals since January 2021 who cheated on in-person qualification exams or possessed unauthorized materials while taking in-person tests.
In settling these matters, Autiero and Kausar accepted and consented to the entry of FINRA’s findings without admitting or denying them.
FINRA is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to investor protection and market integrity. It regulates one critical part of the securities industry—brokerage firms doing business with the public in the United States. FINRA, overseen by the SEC, writes rules, examines for and enforces compliance with FINRA rules and federal securities laws, registers broker-dealer personnel and offers them education and training, and informs the investing public. In addition, FINRA provides surveillance and other regulatory services for equities and options markets, as well as trade reporting and other industry utilities. FINRA also administers a dispute resolution forum for investors and brokerage firms and their registered employees. For more information, visit www.finra.org.