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Monday, October 14, 2019

Wash. AG files suit against insurance agent for targeting elderly widows

By Bryan Cohen | Jul 30, 2013

SEATTLE (Legal Newsline) - Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a lawsuit Monday against an insurance agent and his two business partners who allegedly duped elderly consumers out of thousands of dollars.

TEAM Services LLC, TEAM Insurance Services LLC, Henry William Dailey, Janet Sparks and Deborah Higgins sold annuities, reverse mortgages and living trusts to senior citizens. The defendants allegedly dropped by the homes of seniors unannounced and claimed to provide estate and financial planning services to improve the seniors' financial circumstances without the seniors' friends, relatives or financial advisors present.

The defendants allegedly convinced seniors to refinance an existing reverse mortgage or take out a new reverse mortgage to extract the maximum amount of home equity and then convinced the seniors to invest mortgage proceeds in annuity products. The defendants received added commissions on annuity sales and failed to disclose significant surrender penalties seniors would pay if they had to use their money tied up in annuities.

"It is deplorable to prey on our most vulnerable consumers," Ferguson said. "It appears the defendants abused seniors' trusting nature to maximize their commissions at their victims' expense. The attorney general's office will fight to stop this scam."

In some instances, the defendants used false information in the annuity applications and even forged the victims' signatures. The defendants also allegedly acted as investment advisors and attorneys without proper licensure.

The lawsuit alleges the defendants failed to make product disclosures, used deceptive sales tactics and made unfair representations related to investment advice and estate documents. Ferguson's lawsuit requests injunctive and other relief under the Consumer Protection Act.

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