I was recently contacted by an investigative reporter from “The Clarion-Ledger” in my official capacity as Chairman of the Certified Medicaid Planner™ Governing Board (the standards board that oversees and operates the CMP™ designation). She has written several in-depth articles over the past few weeks about Mississippi scam artist and former insurance producer Gina Palasini. Palasini’s tale is a cautionary one for advisors and consumers alike.
Palasini was arrested in Southern California for taking money from elderly clients, according to an August 30, 2014 report in “The Clarion-Ledger.” She is in the process of being extradited to Mississippi where the charges originate; but it appears that further scams in California may take her back to the Golden State to stand for charges.
In 2006, Palasini was caught selling a fraudulent annuity contract under the guise of benefit planning, and then pocketing the cash. The Mississippi Insurance Department learned of the incident and revoked her license that same year.
She continued to operate under numerous names around Mississippi, including “Medicaid Planning Specialists” in Brandon, “Veteran’s Pension Planners of America” in Indianola, and “Senior Benefits Consulting Group” in Leland.
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Seven months after her insurance license was revoked, another complaint was filed against Palasini with the Insurance Department. The charge was for withholding a client’s Medicaid application and then lying about it, according to the complaint on file.
In another annuity scam, she was indicted on two counts of false pretense in January 2012 for taking client funds from a community spouse meant to go into a Medicaid compliant annuity and pocketing the money. She pleaded guilty to only one count in 2013, in exchange for a deal that required full repayment of the funds; however, the court received the first installment payment and the second payment bounced, producing a warrant for her arrest.
But instead of facing punishment, it appears that she moved to California and allegedly continued her conniving ways by pushing VA benefits and taking more client funds.
See also: Medicaid and veterans’ benefits
My only personal knowledge of the case was that the CMP™ Governing Board had been contacted by a consumer to request information about whether Palasini was a Certified Medicaid Planner™. It’s unclear if she was attempting to pass herself off as being certified or if a potential client was attempting to verify if she had any credentials backing up her claims of expertise. According to our records, she had never been certified and never sought certification. Additionally, according to the VA website, she is not an accredited VA claims agent.
As I was interviewed by the reporter, she told me about the various activities in which Palasini was allegedly engaged. They were enough to turn my stomach. Under the guise of benefit planning, she was advising clients to place moneys in an annuity.