TAG | senior insurance fraud
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, also known as FINRA, has been enforcing all types of annuity transaction misdeeds nationwide according to recent enforcement reports from the agency, writes Elizabeth Festa in a recent article for LifeHealthPro.com.
FINRA recently censured a firm and fined it $40,000 to settle allegations that the firm failed to maintain required documentation about variable annuity transactions and it’s customers. Sampled transactions of the firm, Allied Beacon Partners, Inc., Richmond, Va., lacked certain customer information or documentation needed in order to make a reasonable suitability determination.
“A large portion of variable annuity transactions sampled revealed the firm’s failure to ensure that a designated principal adequately reviewed and approved the customer’s application prior to its transmission to the issuing insurance company,” FINRA wrote.
FINRA reported that the firm’s Written Supervisory Procedures (WSPs) for variable annuity transactions were deficient. The WSPs identified one individual as having the responsibility to supervise variable transactions, but another individual not identified in the WSPs was actually the primary person responsible for supervising VA transactions, FINRA uncovered.
FINRA’s findings also said that the WSPs did not address how the firm would monitor compliance with SEC Rule 15c2-8, which requires that a prospectus be delivered to customers. The firm was unable to provide any documentation that a prospectus was sent to any of the customers, FINRA alleged.
FINRA also settled a matter involving a registered representative who recommended unsuitable transactions, a mortgage and a variable annuity, to a customer, a 53-year-old widow who worked as an administrative assistant for a public school system. Her annual salary was approximately $55,000, she owned a home unencumbered by a mortgage and valued at approximately $500,000, and she had an investment portfolio valued at approximately $160,000 in retirement accounts and $100,000 in certificates of deposit.
In another recent case, FINRA found that the representative did not have a reasonable basis for recommending that the customer mortgage her primary residence to invest $300,000 in a variable annuity, given that the customer intended to retire in seven years, had limited income, expected an equally limited retirement income and would have an insufficient monthly income to make the mortgage payments.
FINRA concluded that the registered representative’s conduct violated rules of ethical standards and rules concerning recommendations to customers. FINRA fined the representative $5,000 and suspended him in all capacities for 10 business days.
In another FINRA case, a registered representative in Naples, Fla.,was fined $25,000 and suspended from association with any FINRA member in any capacity for three month. He consented to findings that he recommended and executed a variable annuity replacement contract for a member firm customer in a state in which he was not licensed to sell insurance products and included false information in the firm’s electronic books and records.
FINRA’s findings stated that he logged into his member firm’s Web-based system utilized by firm sales staff to complete transaction paperwork for annuity contract purchases reporting that the customer was a New York state resident. When the system rejected the replacement transaction because the deferred VA product was not offered to New York residents and because he did not hold the requisite state insurance license, he listed the customer’s state of residence as Florida.
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) revised its annuity sales model regulation in March, 2010, to provide annuity protections for consumers of any age, (such as the 53 year-old widow), requiring insurer reviews of every annuity transaction, and clarifying that insurers are responsible for compliance with annuity protection provisions — even when insurers contract with third parties.
A Florida regulatory-supported bill died in the Florida Banking & Insurance Committee back in March, 2012. Florida, which has one of the highest senior population rates in the country, would have become the 20th state to enact the revised model law on annuities.
If you or a family member have become alleged victims of annuity or insurance fraud, contact an attorney at Soreide Law Group for a free consultation on how to recover your investment losses. To speak with an attorney, call 888-760-6552, or visit http://www.securitieslawyer.com.
Soreide Law Group, PLLC, representing Insurance Fraud Victims in Federal Court, State Court, and before the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”).
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In an InvestementNews.com article by Darla Mercado, she writes that a group of mostly elderly investors trapped in a $7 million scam involving so-called “private annuities” will be getting back only a sliver of their original investment.
The trustee overseeing the bankruptcy case of insurance agent John F. Langford of Amarillo, Texas, revealed that most of the clients in a fraud masterminded by the agent will be getting back only 2.8 cents for every dollar they had invested.
Langford is currently doing time — 15 years in prison — after pleading guilty last fall to 15 counts of securities fraud and other charges. The Texas State Securities Board said that he stole close to $7 million from dozens of clients through the sale of unregistered products, including phony “private annuities” and promissory notes that promised interest rates as high as 9%.
Ms. Mercado writes that after going through Mr. Langford’s assets, which included an $85,000 Jackson National Life Insurance Co. annuity and $2,600 in furs and jewelry, trustee Kent Ries was able to scrape up $212,126 from which to pay off unsecured creditors’ claims. The jailed insurance agent owes money to 111 individuals and companies.
The InvestmentNews.com article said that among the largest claims Mr. Langford is facing: a $1.24 million claim from Hazel Carter, guardian of investor Ruth Alice Roach–Worak. Ms. Carter pursued Mr. Langford in federal bankruptcy court in Texas, arguing that Mr. Langford had made misrepresentations to Ms. Roach-Worak when selling “private annuities” to her between 2004 and 2006. Ms. Roach-Worak, who was over age 80 at the time, had chipped in about $950,000 in purchasing the phony investments, many of which weren’t expected to come due until she was over 90. Ms. Carter is expected to net only $35,765 out of her million dollar claim, according to trustee documents.
Mercado writes that a spokesman for the Texas State Securities Board, noted that in many fraud cases, victims manage to get only a few cents on the dollar. “There’s generally little recovery in fraud cases,” he said. “This fraud has gone on for a while, and Mr. Langford made a number of Ponzi-type payments. The money disappeared, and this is why it’s critically important for investors to check if the person and the investment are registered before making an investment.” He also noted that often victims make the mistake of purchasing unregistered investments from insurance agents, assuming that “because they’re involved in the financial field, they’re authorized to sell securities.”
Securities Lawyer, Lars K. Soreide, of Soreide Law Group, PLLC, has represented clients nationwide. If you or a family member have sustained investment losses due to your stock broker or financial advisor’s recommendations, call for a free consultation on how to potentially recover your losses. To speak with an attorney call 888-760-6552, or visit our website at: www.securitieslawyer.com.
Soreide Law Group, PLLC., representing investors nationwide before FINRA the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.
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