The Florida Department of Financial Services ("the FDFS") regulates the activities of insurance agents. In recent months, the FDFS has issued press releases concerning formal charges brought against several Florida insurance agents who are alleged to have engaged in fraud, resulting in substantial investment losses for their clients. Some of the recent announcements concerning insurance fraud include:
On September 26, 2014, the FDFS announced the arrest of Plant City financial advisor and insurance agent Paula Kampf Albertson for stealing $200,000 in insurance claims from her clients. An investigation by the Florida Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud revealed Albertson exploited her elderly clients by making Albertson’s own family the beneficiaries of her clients’ insurance benefits. Moreover, additional victims have since come forward: the Tampa Bay Times reported on January 15, 2015 that Albertson is facing additional charges after more clients claimed she took their money. Investigators with the state Division of Insurance Fraud have alleged that Albertson stole more than $800,000 in the last five years from at least seven victims.
On December 19, 2014, the FDFS announced the arrest of Orange County insurance agent Mario Ferreri for defrauding clients of his financial services company, Financial Management Resources, out of more than $1 million in life insurance premium payments.
On February 4, 2015, the FDFS announced the revocation of Fort Myers insurance agent Gregory Sample’s license after an investigation revealed that Sample engaged in unethical and illegal business practices that ultimately duped several of his clients, most of whom are seniors, to lose money from their annuity contracts. In addition to having his license revoked, the action will render Sample permanently barred from both direct and indirect participation of any kind in the insurance industry and ordered to pay a $140,000 fine.
Ewusiak Law, P.A., currently represents the interests of several victims of an insurance agent outlined above. Frequently, when client funds are missing, the agents have already personally spent or lost the funds, and thus, the agent is unable to pay restitution to the victims, even if ordered by a court. Liability insurance, if any, maintained by the agents may not cover the conduct at issue, either. However, legal avenues exist for victims to recover all or some of their investment losses from the insurance companies, securities brokerage firms, and investment companies involved in the transactions at issue and for which the perpetrators act as employees or agents. If you believe that you are a victim of fraud by a Florida insurance agent, please contact Joel Ewusiak for assistance.