David Alfred Tetley, 50, a former insurance agent, was sentenced to six years in state prison and ordered to pay restitution to victims after pleading guilty to six felony counts of Financial Elder Abuse and Grand Theft.
The sentencing in Los Angeles County Superior Court resulted from an investigation by the California Department of Insurance (CDI) Investigation Division. Tetley was arrested in March after fleeing to Hawaii. Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi has promised to strengthen protections for seniors to avoid the financial and emotional damage scams cause to seniors.
“This type of scam perpetrated against some of our most vulnerable residents will not be tolerated,” said Garamendi. “Make no mistake. I will work to make sure that the David Tetleys of this world, who prey upon our senior citizens, will be targeted and put away for these actions.”
Garamendi was joined at the courthouse in Los Angeles Tuesday morning by Cecil Hyatt, 80, who lost $164,000 in the scams, and Carol Randall, 68, who along with her husband lost more than $31,000.
Investigators discovered that Tetley, through an elaborate and sophisticated scheme of embezzlement and “churning” or “twisting,” reportedly defrauded unsuspecting victims out of approximately $3 million. “Churning” or “twisting” occurs when a victim is induced to surrender a policy from one insurance company to purchase another, resulting in lucrative commission fees for the agent.
Those who practice this fraud misrepresent financial success results or provide an incomplete comparison of policies to dupe the victims. Tetley garnered commissions of 10 percent to 17 percent on each policy surrendered, while the victims lost as much as 20 percent of the value of their annuity for each transaction.
Tetley reportedly cultivated his clients by conducting various self-promoting events, billed as wealth preservation, tax savings or money management seminars. During these promotions, Tetley exaggerated his success, education and his experience with several prominent investment companies. Because of Tetley’s acts, the victims suffered irreparable emotional and financial harm.
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