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Retirement Planning > Retirement Investing > Annuity Investing

Tales from La-La Land

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A Los Angeles radio host and several partners are accused of scamming Iranian Americans out of some $20 million. The host used his radio program to lure more than 100 investors into buying unregistered debentures. He falsely claimed the securities were FDIC insured CDs, government bonds, and/or corporate bonds issued by Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) backed firms. Rather than make legitimate investments, the host and his brother used client funds to build a multi-million residence and to trade option futures, which lost more than $18 million.

A Florida annuity agent lost his license after luring seniors into bad annuity deals with “free lunch” seminars. The agent apparently convinced a senior couple to purchase two equity-indexed annuities after winning their trust at a seminar. Later, the couple changed their mind, but the agent proceeded with the transaction anyway, withdrawing thousands of dollars from their account to pay for the annuity. The agent also convinced two other seniors to buy annuities, transactions that generated $95,000 in surrender penalties and $102,000 in commissions. The state charged the agent with misrepresentation, unsuitable sales, twisting, and deceptive sales practices.

The California Insurance Commissioner revoked an insurance agent’s license for engaging in prohibited sales interviews and other unfair and improper practices targeting seniors. The California Department of Insurance found that the agent contacted senior citizens and arranged appointments in their homes to review and update their living trust documents. Not only did he have no expertise in this area, his true intent was to sell them an annuity. The California Insurance Code specifically prohibits this sales approach. The commissioner also found the agent guilty of misrepresenting the annuities he was selling and making false statements regarding the financial condition of his prospect’s insurers.


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