Insurance Agent Scam Targets the Elderly

There was a time when your parents protected you. Now is the time for you to return the favor.

Most insurance agents aren’t out to steal your money. Let me say that up front. But many are. Your challenge is recognizing those who are prone to rob you. It is a challenge because (1) you cannot tell the honest ones from the crooks just by sight, and (2) the pressures of everyday life often turn honest agents into dishonest agents seemingly overnight. A recent story from North Dakota tells a familiar tale. According to The Grand Forks Herald: (more…)

The Insurance Company Won’t Pay Your Fraud Claim

The promise that an insurance company will pay in the event of fraud is a 100 percent accurate tip-off to a fraud.

I am serving as an expert witness for an attorney who practices on both sides of the Atlantic. He is well acquainted with the epidemic of financial fraud that has engulfed all of the UK as well as the United States. During our last meeting he shared with me a tactic that he has seen UK fraudsters use, and he granted his permission for me to share with you. (more…)

Friend or Fiend?

I now have four active cases involving conduct that would incite a pacifist to throw a punch.

Having represented investors since I left the SEC in 1996, I have seen my share of elder financial abuse cases. In those 16 years it has been rare for me not to have at least one active case that involves a broker or investment promoter taking advantage of an elderly person with cognitive decline. But things have gotten a lot worse, quick.  I now have four active cases involving conduct that would incite a pacifist to throw a punch. A recent case from Illinois is a good example. According to Insurance Journal: (more…)

Another Scam by the Friendly Neighborhood Insurance Agent

Most investors tend to look for financial fraud, if at all, from stockbrokers and investment advisers. They rarely think of the friendly neighborhood insurance agent as a threat.

Many of Robert Sturman’s victims were school teachers in Bucks County and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  They trusted Sturman because he had been selling insurance in Bucks County since before they could remember.  In the end, 50 people lost more than $4 million.  None of the stories is more heart-wrenching that the story of how Sturman victimized Cynthia Weiss.  According to the Philadelphia Inquirer: (more…)

Another Fraud by the Friendly Neighborhood Insurance Man

People feel humiliation and guilt over having been scammed out of their life savings

People believed Jeremy Hart.  He had a longstanding insurance business in Greeley, Colorado.  So, when he said that he could take good care of their retirement savings, generating guaranteed returns of between seven and 14 percent, retirees handed over a total of $3.4 million.  Now, it’s all gone, and Hart is headed to prison, after pleading guilty to one count of felony theft and one count of felony securities fraud.  According to a story in the Coloradoan.com: (more…)

Beware Your Friendly Neighborhood Insurance Broker

But, just like brokers and investment advisers, those insurance brokers work in a system that constantly pulls them toward abusing those who have placed trust in them.

Most of our blog posts concern stockbrokers and registered investment advisers; people who are, or should be, registered under federal securities laws.  Today’s post reminds us that you are just at much at risk from insurance brokers.   (more…)

Where You’d Least Expect It

The scam artists offer these trusted advisers an attractive commission on each sale. With dollar signs in their eyes, these trusted advisers cannot possibly objectively evaluate the investments they have agreed to sell.

Where does the greatest threat to your life savings come from?  You might think it’s from a professional scam artist.  Because you (mistakenly) believe that characters like that are few and far between and because you (mistakenly) believe that your instincts would lead you away from anything offered by such a character, you believe that your nest egg is safe.  With all due respect, you could not be more wrong.  Oftentimes, the biggest threat is so close to you that you do not perceive it.  A case out of Wyoming helps make the point. (more…)

Anything for Another Fat Annuity Commission

Find out all you can about the broker who claims to have your best interests at heart, or risk learning the hard way that he is putting his own financial interests ahead of yours.

Darla Mercado of Investment News brings us the story of insurance agent James Otto of Overland Park, Kansas.  She reports that Missouri’s secretary of state has issued a cease-and-desist order against Otto, formerly an agent for Bankers Life and Casualty Co. (Bankers Life), ”alleging that he used an unregistered in-house brokerage to help liquidate clients’ accounts and use the proceeds to buy annuities.”  According to Mercado: (more…)

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