A Lubbock, Texas-based insurance agent has been arrested on charges of defrauding elderly victims through an annuity scam.
The Texas Department of Insurance reported that Joseph Allen Gaines was arrested last month on charges that he kept clients’ money that was intended to be used to purchase annuities.
Investigators with the Texas Department of Insurance and the Lubbock Police Department are trying to determine if there are addtional victims.
TDI investigators say it appears most of Gaines victims were over the age of 65, seeking investments for retirement. Gaines would sell them what he claimed were annuities, but never passed their money on to the insurance company to purchase the policies. Instead, he kept their money for himself, according to TDI.
Gaines came to the attention of TDI and the Lubbock Police Department earlier this year, when a 94-year-old woman’s family called the insurance company to confirm her $700,000 investment. They were told there was no policy in their mother’s name.
TDI Sergeant Steve Richardson says it’s important for trusted family members to be involved when it comes to important financial decisions.
“We believe that Mr. Gaines had been a financial advisor for this woman’s family for decades,” Richardson said. “He took advantage of her trust and encouraged her to invest in a fraudulent annuity. We hate to see something like this happen, but when it does we need to act quickly to minimize the damage.”
Investigators are urging anyone who purchased annuities to call their insurance company – and not the agents who sold the policies – to verify that they do have a policy and that the amounts match what they were promised. If there are any problems, the next call should be to TDI at 1-800-252-3439.
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